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Two girls sitting on the grass outside - Kari Traa


7 uplifting reasons to skip the gym and work out outside

As the days get brighter and nature starts to bloom, our will to step inside a sweaty gym can easily decline. Luckily, you don’t have to. Here are seven uplifting reasons why you should skip the gym, and break a sweat outdoors.

1. You will work out for longer

When you´re distracted by the environment around you, you´re less aware of your effort, such as how far you´ve run or how much your squads burn. Changing your routine and discovering new scenery helps to combat workout boredom», says Robert Gotlin, director of the Orthopaedic and Sports Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York. You will be surprised how much faster time travels when you aren´t in the gym!

2. You spend more energy and challenge more muscles

Outdoor exercise tends to be more forceful than the indoor version. In studies comparing the effort of running on a treadmill and the effort of running outside, treadmill runners spend less energy to cover the same distance as those striding outside, mostly because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain. Studies also find that people flex their ankles more when they run outside. They also run downhill, a movement that isn’t easily done on a treadmill. This challenges your muscles differently than just running on flat or uphill terrain.

3. You will save money

Gym memberships aren't cheap. They can drain your bank account, and become a real waste if you're more of a no-show than a gym rat. Smaller investments in home gym equipment can also be a waste of money if you end up not using it. Exploring your urban environment or hitting the forest, will definitely cut your fitness bills!

4. You will feel happier and less stressed

Exercising outdoors is like taking nature`s own antidepressant. According to a report published in Environmental Science and Technology, it creates greater feelings of revitalization, energy, and positive thinking than does working out indoors. Furthermore, after a 30-minute walk in the park, 71 percent of people feel less stressed, while 72 percent of people who take their walks indoors actually feel more stressed. «Breathing fresh air opposed to the recycled kind can create a feeling of euphoria, which comes from the body's release of feel-good endorphins», Gotlin says.

Two girls running - Kari Traa
5. You will fight germs

Gyms aren’t exactly the cleanest places on earth. In fact, some studies have shown that gyms are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria that can cause MRSA and other illnesses and infections including athlete’s foot, boils and ringworm. Indoor air is also more polluted than outdoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So, take your workout outdoors where you can breathe fresh air and avoid the nasty germs lurking around the gym.

6. You´ll think more clearly

Breaking a sweat outside may make us smarter, according to Jo Barton, Ph.D., the lead author of a 2011 study that analysed the mental health of 53 people who were involved in indoor or outdoor activities for six weeks. Throughout the day, we often have a million things going on that need our attention. Focusing on only one task can be difficult. However, spending time in nature allows our mind to wander. This gives the cognitive portion of our brain a break, allowing us to focus better when we need to. Furthermore, Barton finds that closeness to nature increases our well-being and has an immunizing effect that protects us from future stress and helps us think more clearly.

7. You can work out whenever you want

When you exercise outside, you aren’t limited by class schedules, transportation, or traffic. Just lace up your sneakers and head out the front door! The outdoors is always ready to go.

Girl having an outdoor workout outside in the grass - Kari Traa