Why the great outdoors is the ideal workout partner

Why the great outdoors is the ideal workout partner

I’m a big believer in the idea that the ‘best’ place to exercise is wherever you enjoy and which suits your lifestyle the most. So if that’s the gym, great! Likewise if it’s your local yoga, dance or pilates studio or even an indoor swimming pool or netball court. Or you might find it suits you best to create and do an indoor circuit at home. If that works for you, keep at it!

But personally, I’m a fan of heading outside to be physically active so will always do that as my first choice – and there are a few reasons why. First up, I find that combining exercise with being outside in the fresh air is really energising and uplifting. But don’t just take my word for it – research shows that, compared to indoor workouts, outdoor ones can be more effective at boosting mood and energy levels, and fighting stress, most likely thanks to the hit of nature they deliver. In fact, ‘green spaces’ have a mood-boosting effect all on their own.

Research also shows that because outdoor exercise is more likely than indoor varieties to be perceived as ‘fun’, you’re not only more likely to do it regularly, it won’t seem as taxing or tiring, either.

Another reason I love it? It’s so simple – you can literally pull on your exercise gear and head out your front door at home, work or on holiday and start moving. Plus, for the most part, it’s free. While there are some forms of outdoor exercise that you need to pay for – like a round of golf – with a few tips and tricks, you don’t need a membership to make the great outdoors your own personal workout space.

Apart from the obvious suggestions of going for a simple walk or a jog, some ‘doesn’t cost a cent’ outdoor ideas to consider trying are:

  • Taking advantage of local ‘outdoor gym’ equipment. More and more public parks and green spaces feature static exercise equipment – things like bars and benches – that you can use to perform a circuit of exercises, just as you would in a more conventional gym. Keep a look out for them.
  • Creating your own ‘outdoor gym’. Even if your local council hasn’t equipped your suburb with outdoor exercise equipment (yet!), you can use all sorts of objects to perform body weight exercises, like tricep dips, calf raises, step ups and bench push-ups. Look for park benches, picnic tables, low walls and steps.
  • Leashing up your dog, or a neighbours, and heading down to the nearest dog-friendly park or beach for an active play session. With a bit of luck, you might even be able to walk there, to squeeze in some extra steps. Discover why four-legged friends make such great training buddies, here.
  • Mowing the lawn, doing a spot of gardening, washing the car or tackling any other outdoor chore that needs doing at your place.
  • Pulling your bicycle out of retirement, jumping aboard and going for a ride. If you don’t own a bike, ask your friends and family if they have one you could borrow every now and then.
  • Grabbing whatever sporting equipment you or your kids have lying around the house and making a beeline for your local sports field. Kicking a ball around, throwing a Frisbee, playing a game of cricket or even having a hit of tennis, if there’s a free public court nearby, are all great options. Discover how to encourage your family to get involved, here.
  • Going for a swim in the ocean. Even though it’s autumn here in Australia, there are still many parts of the country where it’s warm enough to splash around in the sea – particularly if you wear a wetsuit.

Worried that this time of year, as we’re heading into the colder months, may not be the ideal time to commit to outdoor workouts? Not only are there things you can do to stay motivated to exercise when it’s cold outside, don’t let the weather put you off! The cooler temperatures can provide more flexibility around when to exercise compared to summer when midday heat can be too intense, and with a bit of planning a cold snap or a bit of rain doesn’t have to get in your way. Use layers to stay warm, making sure you can remove a few as the activity starts to increase your body temperature, and if it’s raining, use a lightweight waterproof jacket or take an umbrella with you. Why not head outside for some exercise today and see how it feels?