Kelsey and I teamed up to coach this past Saturday at SAPT while Ryan was “squatting the world” at his powerlifting meet. It was a nice day because it allowed me to reconnect with some of our long-time clients who I no longer see very often.
One of the questions I received was about finding the best opportunity for some additional activity for a woman with a very busy schedule. Her situation is this: she trains at SAPT 2x per week and is either sitting at her desk all day, being driven to meetings, or – on a good day – getting the chance to walk to her meetings. Add in the obligatory “long workday” to the other factors and you’ve got a busy married woman with kids who regularly copes with mounting stress and her desire to stay healthy.
She has a membership at a big commercial gym and was really inquiring about what to use there, but I told her one of the parts of week that I enjoy the most are the runs I do outside on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.
As someone who also needs to make effecient and effective use of their time, I appreciate two specific factors about outdoor exercise:
- I don’t have to waste time driving to another location to do the workout.
- I always feel like being outside helps to restore my mind to a clearer and less bogged-down state.
- It usually feels like I get more bang-for-my-buck from a time perspective – no interruptions, beautiful setting, high energy output (if that’s what is in order for the day).
But the real question is: are there any measurable benefits to exercising outdoors instead of indoors?
To answer this question I found a research paper published in 2008 in the journal Health & Place titled “Restorative qualities of indoor and outdoor exercise settings as predictors of exercise frequency.”
It is quite interesting. I found it notable that the subjects perceived the health benefits of indoor and outdoor exercise settings to be the same. But, they feel the restorative properties of an outdoor exercise setting will outweigh the indoor setting. I have to agree.
The study is quick to note that while restorative properties are higher for outdoor exercise settings, this should not be used as reason to move all exercise outside. After all, indoor exercise affords a multitude of benefits that nature cannot (specialized equipment, climate control, safety, etc.).
Finding a nice mix between inside and outside will probably yield the greatest benefits for body and mind. If you’re pressed for time, why not just take your workout outside every so often?