Outdoor exercise: Why it is so good for us, now and forever!

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I am strong advocate of outdoor exercise and it is one of the core features of Nurture Health and Fitness.  My passion for this way of exercising has come from a lifelong enjoyment of being outside and regular reminders from my mother that “there is no such things as bad weather, just the wrong type of clothing!”.  

As my interest in mental and physical wellbeing developed I researched this field more extensively and discovered compelling evidence to support my instincts regarding the benefits of stepping outside for your exercise.  

During the most stringent lockdown period of the current coronavirus outbreak I think we have all learnt to appreciate the pleasure and privilege associated with being outdoors.  It has been a refreshing change to see so many more people walking, jogging and cycling down the lane past my house and I sincerely hope that this behaviour will continue when restrictions are eased and more people return to work.

To encourage people to continue making outdoor exercise a priority I thought I would share some of my favourite benefits.

  1. Reduced risk of COVID-19 infection

It would have been hard to imagine that this would be my number one benefit a few months ago but as coronavirus continues to dominate our thoughts staying safe has to be a top priority.  As lockdown eases there are understandable concerns about increased infection rates.  Provided social distancing and hygiene recommendations are adhered to, exercising outdoors will continue to carry a significantly lower risk than visiting gyms or indoor studios.  The extensive air space, and absence of shared equipment are the main reasons for this. 

  1. Connection with nature

These challenging times are placing unprecedented levels of stress on our lives so the soothing and relaxing effects of being in natural surroundings are especially important.  So significant is the impact of nature on our stress levels that even looking out of a window towards a green space has been shown to lower stress.  

3.   Sunlight exposure

This has two main benefits.  Whilst there are complex biochemical pathways behind these a simple appreciation should help to incentivise.  Firstly, it allows our bodies to produce vitamin D, micronutrient essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.  Secondly, it helps to regulate our internal circadian rhythm ensuring that our sleep patterns are regular and restorative.

4. Varied terrain

By moving off the treadmill we expose our feet to constantly changing surfaces.  Even road running provides more variation than the revolving mat of a machine.  This variation strengthens the bones, tendons and ligaments in our feet and limbs as they constantly react and adapt to their changing microenvironment.  It can also reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries associated with constant treadmill running.

5. Space and Freedom

My personal favourite! Even before lockdown the sense of relaxation and calm that comes with stepping away from the confines of four walls or a car, bus or train seat was always special for me.  When you are not distracted by a busy gym environment your mind has space to switch into a different way of thinking and it is no co-incidence that people describe having their best ideas while they

are out on a walk or a run.  I often leave the house with a problem circulating around my head and am constantly surprised that by the end of the exercise my brain, after concentrating solely on where to place the next step or how to keep going up the hill, comes up with a solution.  

Through the sessions and programmes offered at Nurture Health and Fitness I aim to make exercising outdoors an invigorating and inspiring experience.  At the Nurture premises there is an open fronted gym space and a private exercise area in the wood clearing.  If you are unable to travel I am also happy to do sessions in your own garden or footpaths and trails in your locality.  Having someone to explore your local walking and running routes with often makes regular exercise easier.  There is also the added security of having company in more remote areas or in the dark.  

For more information please visit www.nurturehealthfitness.com or contact me via email on alice@nurturehealthfitness.co.uk