During the summer months, the hot and humid weather can make the climate-controlled, convenient environment of the gym really enticing. Despite wanting to enjoy not sweating as much, there are many wonderful benefits to taking your workouts outdoors.
A major advantage to outdoor exercise is the exposure to direct sunlight. In the winter, you are exposed to less direct sunlight, which can leave you feeling depressed and lacking in Vitamin D and energy. Moving your workout to the great outdoors can certainly boost your mood and make you feel a little less sluggish. You will be more likely to increase the duration of your workout sessions. It will also lower the stress hormone cortisol, which can sometimes lead to unwanted weight gain.
Studies have shown that outdoor exercise can increase the quality of joint movements. With the varying terrain and unpredictable grade of any given surface, your joints have to respond and move accordingly. This will lead to greater ankle flexibility and different muscular responses. The ground also gives much better impact absorption than the treadmill if you enjoy walking or running. This will give your joints a much needed break from the continued reverberation of impact.
Outdoor workouts also require greater energy demands which will equal greater calorie burns. The reason for this is because you are working against the environment. If you are running, jogging or cycling, the elements (wind, rain, terrain) are all working against you creating drag forces. Your body will have to increase energy expenditure in order to continue to propel you forward, no matter how subtle the drag forces may be. If you are looking to maximize intensity in the least amount of time, an outdoor workout will be the way to go.
Taking your training outdoors may also guarantee you will stick to your exercise routine, especially if you are getting more enjoyment out of it (i.e. mood improvement). It will also lead to greater consumption of water, as you will have to replenish what you sweat out. Make sure you stay hydrated during those hot and humid days. You should be drinking at least 50% of your bodyweight in ounces. (example: 160 lb person = 80 ounces of water per day) It is also advised that if you have pre-existing conditions, you should work with a Personal Trainer. The Trainer can guide you through proper exercise technique and progression, and provide you with an outdoor workout you can do on your own that is safe and effective.
Even though it can be tempting to take shelter from the heat during the summer months, outdoor exercise has been proven to be more enjoyable and more effective, not only for your body but for your overall quality of health. Moving your training outdoors equals moving more, and any increase in activity is a good thing!
Source: Medical Fitness Network