Sunny side up
16th February 2011
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This post has been inspired by the beautiful February weather recently, which got me thinking about how much better most of us feel when the sun is shining.

Think how much better you feel when you look out the window and see brightness and blue sky. Do you exercise outside or make a point of going out for a stroll, to breathe in the fresh air? How good does it make you feel?

Or do you sweat it out inside, bored to tears by your surroundings, able to tolerate your exercise only through distracting yourself with music, the tv etc...? Ever wondered if there's a more motivating solution?

It's not just a perception - research has proved that exercise really is better for you if it's done outside - Outdoor exercise 'healthier than gym'
As a self confessed outdoor exercise enthusiast, I thought it would be useful to outline the main benefits of the great outdoors and pass on some tips on some great ways to incorporate this into your lifestyle.

Benefits:

  • Mood - put simply, being outside and getting fresh oxygen in your lungs just makes you feel fantastic
  • Bones - the vast majority of us don't get sufficient vitamin D (together with calcium - essential for healthy bones) from our diets. Far better than taking expensive supplements and much easier too. Just 15mins a day with face & forearms exposed (no suncream required) will keep you healthy¬† http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12357382
  • De-stress - exercising outdoors, particularly in green spaces has been shown to reduce resting blood pressure, pulse and breathing rates. If you're feeling the pressure, just 10-15mins will give you some real relief and help ease the way through the rest of your day
  • Up the interest - sick of looking at the same four walls in the gym? Ever changing scenery, anticipating and responding to traffic, pedestrians and obstacles will make your workout seem to zoom past and you never know what excitement you may witness
  • Challenge - varying surfaces, changing gradients, wind, rain and those obstacles all keep your body guessing as to what's coming next. This burns more calories and uses a much wider range of muscles, challenging your balance and giving your core a better workout along the way
  • Resilience - ok, so forget the sunshine and imagine it's revolting outside. You're not going to melt or dissolve and providing you're appropriately dressed and watch your footing you're unlikely to blow away or get lost in a hole! How good are you going to feel about yourself when you face up to the extra challenge from the weather, get through and feel stronger? Plus... a warm house, shower and hot drink feel SO much better when you've been doing something to make you feel you really deserve them!
  • Cost - forget the cost of gym membership or classes, exercising outdoors is free

Hints and tips:

  • Travel - incorporate your outdoor exercise into your commute. Leave fresh clothes and toiletries at work and get on your bike, or get your trainers out a few times a week. If you live in the city, it's probably quicker and less stressful than sitting in a traffic jam in your car or stuffed into a crowded bus
  • Appointment - avoid the excuses by making a 'play date' in the great outdoors with a friend. If you can get a group together at a weekend or evening to play Frisbee, rounders etc then you'll get a great workout and have a whole load of fun and socialising. Going on a long walk with friends and family is a brilliant way to explore an area and have that long, relaxed chat you never make time for when you're inside busy 'doing'
  • Lunchbreak - do you really, really need to sit and eat your sandwiches at your desk every day? Even if you don't have time for a full blown bootcamp class or run, a half hour brisk walk will see you back at your desk with the roses back in your cheeks, refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges of the afternoon ahead
  • Clothing - wearing the right kit can make the difference between a comfortable session and a miserable experience. Avoid cotton t-shirts and trackie bottoms (particularly if it's likely to rain) to stop you getting chilly and chafed. Thin layers in technical fabrics will keep you cosy when you first go out and allow you to strip off as the going gets warmer. Discount stores, supermarkets and sales are great sources of technical kit at affordable prices
  • Planning - work out when you're going out, where you're going and what you think it's going to be like outside when you get there. Make sure you've got the right clothing in the right place, have got appropriate food to fuel you and have let others know where you're going to be to keep you safe
  • Variety - mix up your activities to keep things fun. Walking, running, cycling, circuit training, team games, tennis, watersports, yoga, pilates and bodyweight based weight training and much more can all easily be done outside. Think about what you can do where and go out and try it

Have fun, tell me your favourite workout locations and type of exercises and pop up photo's of the best views you've come across when exercising outdoors.

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About the Author

Jenny M

Member since: 18th May 2011

I believe that exercise is for everyone - let me help you build your fitness, confidence and energy, set realistic goals and have loads of fun along the way

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