by Lori Cipolla
With Spring around the corner, it’s a perfect time to start planning to take your fitness regimen outdoors. Not only does physical activity outdoors change things up, it provides additional health benefits. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that as little as 5 minutes a day doing something outdoors such as a brisk walk can improve your mood for the day. Some individuals showed lower levels of perceived exertion when exercise was performed outdoors.
NIH research also reveal that it is possible to expend more energy running outside versus on an indoor stationary cycle. Taking into account air resistance from wind, an individual is able to burn more calories outdoors.
Another benefit of outdoor exercise is having increased exposure to sunlight which is a natural way of increasing Vitamin D levels. Why is more Vitamin D beneficial? There are several reasons, Vitamin D is essential to be able to absorb calcium which is important for good bone health. Studies show people without Vitamin D deficiencies had lower risk of diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer, depression, weight gain, to name a few. One thing to note is that you don’t need to bake outside to get the advantage of Vitamin D from sunlight. It only takes 10-15 minutes a day of being in nature to achieve this.
Research also revealed that people age of 70 and older who spent time outside showed a decrease of complaints due to sleep problems and aching bones than those who did not head outside each day.
“The variety of outdoor activities are extensive. These activiteis include: walking, jogging, running, rollerblading, cycling, basketball, and hiking.”
The variety of outdoor activities are extensive. These activities include: walking, jogging, running, rollerblading, cycling, basketball, and hiking. You can also take perform basic exercises outside like running the stairs at your local track/football stadium, you can be creative or keep it simple.
One thing to remember is your safety in whatever you choose to do. This means after you have picked which activity you would like to do, make sure you have proper gear such as a safety helmet, reflective clothing like a vest, proper shoe wear, and/or any knee or elbow protection. You should remember to stay hydrated and be properly fueled according to that activity.
You also should try to plan ahead. Become familiar with the area that you are exercising in. You may even want to plan your activity with a spouse, a friend, or a family member to keep each other accountable. Set weekly goals with a small incentive, it could be gifting yourself some spring fresh flowers for home. A small reward of your weekly success can be as simple as making a “I promise d to walk briskly 4 times during a week for 20 minutes each time and acknowledging your accomplishment.” Provide yourself with a visual aid such as a fitbit or running app. These types of aids can be encouraging to want to do more. They assist with a self-rewarding feeling to see how much you accomplished.
One of the biggest keys to success is staying positive. Surround yourself with supportive, like-minded people. When you arise in the morning, start your day with a positive thought, something you are thankful for. And remember, “Take a quiet walk with Mother Nature. It will nurture your mind, body and soul.” — Anthony Douglas Williams.
Lori Cipolla from Cranston, Rhode Island Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist. She is a Elite 1 Fit Gear athlete elite1fitgear.refersion.com/c/8f40, wife, mom of 5, Fitmark Bags Ambassador. She can be reached at [email protected].