Sweat Outdoors for a Mood-Boosting, Stress-Busting Workout!

by Nkechi Njaka, Msc.

I am not a gym person. I cringe at the very thought of having a membership to sweat indoors. When I have belonged to health clubs, it was more for the hot tub, the sauna and the occasional yoga class (before I discovered studios, and before I was a yogi). But yeah, the gym? Soooo not my thing. Never has been.

As a runner, I’ve always enjoyed my cardio done outdoors. And studies are showing that there is something to that!

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There have been several studies done where researchers found that their volunteers enjoyed outdoor activities more than indoor activities. Furthermore, when psychological tests were administered, these same volunteers scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem. All great, happy things! They also happened to display lowered  depression, tension and fatigue after their outdoor activity. [Source]

few small studies have found that individuals, after an outdoor activity, displayed lower levels of cortisol–a hormone we know to be related to stress– when compared with with an indoor activity. Another cool thing that happens when being outdoors is that we are directly exposed to sunlight (oh hey there, vitamin D!) which has been known to positively affect mood. [Source]

Perhaps I am spoiled. I live in San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the country and in the world. And in said beautiful city, I live in the woods near the beach. I mean, who needs a gym when there are trees and ocean? These are simple, natural things that our planet and our bodies need. Simple things that cannot be found indoors.

You know what would be cool?  An outdoor gym…

I live in a world (and a city) of possibility; I wonder if we can make that one happen.

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