With the temperatures rising as summer approaches, it’s finally time to don the sunglasses, break out shorts and head outdoors. Not only is it enjoyable to be outside when the weather is gorgeous, but it turns out that exercise and activity in nature can have an even more positive effect on you — not just physically, but mentally, as well.
Here are some science-backed benefits for getting active with Mother Nature as your backdrop.
1. IT IMPROVES YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
According to research, even just five minutes of activity in any type of green space can improve mood and self-esteem. Something like a full-day camping trip can significantly boost mood. So even just a bit of light movement outside can have health benefits.
2. YOU MAY EXERCISE HARDER
While you might be headed out or a leisurely walk, don’t be surprised if you start to pick up some speed. A study in Extreme Physiology and Medicine found that individuals actually walked faster when outdoors as opposed to indoors. The same study reported that the increase in intensity doesn’t even feel more difficult.
3. IT CAN LOWER YOUR STRESS LEVELS
Exercising in a park is a lot more beneficial for your mental state than burning calories in the gym. According to research from Glasgow University, walking, running and cycling in a green environment helped individuals lower stress levels.
4. IT CAN IMPROVE CONCENTRATION
Not just for you — for your kids, too. Next time you go for a green stroll, encourage the little ones to join you. A small study done at the University of Illinois found that a 20-minute walk in the park, as opposed to the street, could improve a child’s concentration … especially those who suffer from attention disorders.
5. IT CAN GIVE YOU ENERGY
Say goodbye to your morning java ritual. Instead, replace it with 20 minutes of outdoor activity. Research from the University of Rochester reports that fresh air can wake you up just as well as a cup o’ joe. So the next time you’re feeling lethargic, skip the espresso and go for a walk outside instead.
6. YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO MAKE A HABIT OUT OF IT
If you struggle getting to the gym, try taking your workout outside instead. A study in Environmental Science and Technology reported that those who exercised outdoors were more likely to repeat the behavior. Translation: You may be more likely to run again if you do it outside instead of on the treadmill.
7. IT’S COMPLETELY FREE
Gym memberships can be expensive. On the contrary, Mother Nature, in all her beauty, is free for everyone. From jogging, to biking, to hiking and more, your favorite activities can be done outdoors without having to pay a monthly premium.