I’m a gym rat. I like lifting heavy and throwing iron around. The people, energy, and community that Anytime Fitness provides keeps me motivated and coming back for more. However, especially this time of year, I get spring fever! I need to get outside into open green spaces—sun shining, sweat on, and nature sounds bumpin’. I don’t abandon the gym, but I certainly make sure to incorporate outdoor activities into my routine.
After all, we weren’t meant to be enclosed and sedentary; even as little as five minutes of green exercise a day has been shown to improve mental health and lift our mood. In fact, nature contact yields surprisingly broad benefits. “This contact may occur on a very small scale—plants in the workplace or trees outside the apartment building—or it may occur on a larger scale—a nearby park, a riparian corridor in a city, or a wilderness area…evidence suggests that children and adults benefit so much from contact with nature that land conservation can now be viewed as a public health strategy” (The Nature Principle., Louv, Richard).
Why add outdoor workouts to your routine?
Reverse Mental Fatigue
In general, we are bombarded with tension, stress, and “to-do’s,” but suddenly, when you’re out moving in the spring air, all that mind clutter doesn’t seem to matter as much. Being outdoors helps you get your mind back in focus to things that really matter. We become more existential.
Improve Ability to Focus
Take a break! Chill out. Go on a walk. Our attention span is now less than a goldfish, at eight seconds long. We have to unplug and unwind in order to be more in touch. Physical movement or meditation outdoors can help boost our creativity and problem-solving skills as well.
Raise Immune System
Getting outdoors can lower your cortisol, decrease your blood pressure and heart rate, increase vitamin D, and help you lose weight. Japanese scientists Yoshifumi Miyazaki and Qing Li have been measuring what’s happening in our cells when we get fresh air. They’ve found that just a one-day trip to a suburban park can boost immune activity for at least a week. “If you have time for a vacation, don’t go to a city. Go to a natural area. Try to go one weekend a month. Visit a park at least once a week. Gardening is good. On urban walks, walk under trees…go to a quiet place. Near water is also good.” Qing Li 2010 Jan; 15(1): 9–17.
Ready to get outdoors? Let’s get GREEN!
Grab a light medicine ball, band, kettlebell, and mat.
Complete this total body circuit, 10 repetitions of each move for 4 rounds, as fast as you can:
- Plank with med ball roll
- Med ball squat and press
- Band row
- Kettlebell swing
- Touchdown squat
- Leg lowers