January 01, 2023

Three Reasons Outdoor Exercise Should Be Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions

Outdoor exercise is a fantastic way for adults to improve their physical and emotional health. An International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) study shows outdoor exercise provides significant mental health benefits. Not only can outdoor fitness provide numerous physical benefits, but it can also improve your overall well-being and reduce stress. Read on and learn three reasons outdoor exercise should be part of your New Year’s Resolutions.

A man exercises at a community outdoor fitness park
A man exercises at a community outdoor fitness park

1. Outdoor Exercise Improves Physical Health

Improved physical health: Outdoor exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles, and enhance overall fitness. It can also help with weight management, as activities like hiking or cycling can burn a significant number of calories.

Increased vitamin D levels: Vitamin D is essential for bone health and other bodily functions. Unfortunately, many adults don't get enough vitamin D, as it is synthesized by the skin when exposed to the sun's UVB rays. Adults can naturally increase their vitamin D levels by going outside and exercising.

2. Better Mental Health and Restorative Sleep

Better mental health: Outdoor exercise has been shown to improve mental well-being and reduce stress and anxiety. This may be due to the combination of physical activity and exposure to nature. The combo seems to have a calming effect on the mind.

Improved sleep: Exercise of any kind can help improve sleep, and outdoor exercise may be particularly effective. Natural light and fresh air can help regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle, leading to better sleep quality.

3. Outdoor Fitness Can Be a More Social and Enjoyable Experience

Increased socialization: Outdoor exercise can be a great way to meet new people and socialize. Many outdoor activities, such as group hikes or cycling clubs, offer the opportunity to make new friends and connect with others with similar interests.

Greater enjoyment: Many people find outdoor exercise more enjoyable than indoor workouts. The natural surroundings and changing scenery can make exercise feel more like a leisure activity rather than a chore.

There Are So Many Ways to Exercise Outdoors

An older woman teaches a young girl how to play tennis
A grandmother teaches her granddaughter to play tennis

Adults can try many different outdoor exercise types, depending on their interests and abilities. Some options include:

  • Hiking: Hiking is a great way to get some cardiovascular exercise while enjoying the beauty of nature. It can be done alone or with a group, and trails can range from easy to challenging, depending on your fitness level.
  • Biking: Biking is another excellent way to get in some cardiovascular exercise while enjoying the great outdoors. It can be done on roads or trails and is a low-impact activity that is easy on the joints.
  • Outdoor gym equipment or workout classes: Take your gym classes or workout sessions outside by using fitness equipment designed for the outdoors. You’ll get a great workout and enjoy the benefits of being in nature simultaneously. 
  • Swimming: Swimming is a great outdoor exercise option for adults, providing a full-body workout while being easy on the joints. Swimming in natural bodies of water, such as lakes or oceans, can add an extra element of enjoyment.
  • Tennis: According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), tennis is a fun outdoor activity that provides a full-body workout and can be played by people of all ages and fitness levels. 
  • Yoga: Yoga can be done outdoors in a peaceful natural setting, providing a great way to combine exercise with relaxation and mindfulness.

Make This Year Your Best Yet With Outdoor Exercise

There is strong evidence that adults who incorporate regular physical activity into their lives maintain good health. Outdoor fitness options are plentiful, and outdoor exercise offers numerous ways to have fun and enjoy improving your fitness. So next time you're considering hitting the gym, consider going outside instead to see the benefits for yourself.

If your community is interested in adding outdoor exercise spaces for adults and families, contact your local GameTime outdoor fitness expert.