Outdoor exercise – why it’s so good for you!

Exercising outdoors makes you happier

Huffing and puffing your way round the park may not sound like an instant mood-booster – but research suggests otherwise. Just five minutes of exercise in a ‘green space’ – such as your local park – is enough to make you feel happier and less stressed, according to recent research, published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal. The effect may be due to the oxygen boost from fresh air, which encourages production of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. You don’t necessarily have to run: the results were the same for other types of exercise, such as walking or cycling . Even spending a few minutes pottering around in the garden can cheer you up!

You’ll burn more calories outdoors

Exercising in the open air isn’t just a mood-booster: you’ll also see quicker results from your workout. The reason? Walking, running or cycling outdoors puts more demands on your body. No matter how many fancy settings there are on your treadmill or exercise bike, they can’t totally replicate the varied terrains and weather conditions you’ll encounter outside. A study at the University of Brighton found that people tend to burn significantly fewer calories on a treadmill than they do when covering the same distance outdoors. It’s also hard to replicate running downhill in a gym, which means your leg muscles don’t get the same all-over workout they would outdoors.

You’ll have healthier bones

From about the age of 35, we naturally start to lose bone density so are more at risk from osteoporosis. Vitamin D is a key player in the fight against the bone-thinning disease because it regulates our bodies’ calcium and phosphate levels, ensuring healthy bones and teeth. And where do we get most of our vitamin D from? Sunlight! And to top up our levels, we should each try to get 10 minutes of sunlight exposure to bare skin once or twice between 11am and 3pm each day from May to September, according to the National Osteoporosis Society’s Sunlight Campaign. But – obviously – do take care not to burn. If you stay out for longer than a few minutes, make sure you apply sunscreen!


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