Is Indoor or Outdoor Exercise Better?
By Jeremy Robinson, Certified Personal Trainer
By now, we’ve all heard that exercise is important for our overall health. But it’s really easy to let life get in the way of your best laid fitness plans. As a trainer, I’ve heard the gamut of excuses, from “I don’t have time,” to “I’ll check my schedule and get back to you,” to “there just aren’t enough hours in the day.” And I get it — our lives are crazy. That’s why I tell my clients that the best exercises are the ones you actually do.
As the weather begins to warm up, I hear a lot of clients tell me that they’d rather be outside than inside working out. If outside activity is what gets you excited about being active, fantastic! There are plenty of ways to incorporate both indoor and outdoor exercises into your daily routine, and having a healthy combination of both will not only help you avoid those pesky plateaus, but the change in routine will actually improve your fitness level. Allow your body to experience the best of both indoor and outdoor activity to reach your maximum fitness potential.
The Benefits of Getting Outside for Your Workout
- A welcome change of scenery: Let’s face it- being outside is often more engaging and mentally stimulating, thanks to the fantastic scenery. If you’re normally an indoor exerciser, a jog outside will be a welcome change so you don’t get bored. Once you’ve become bored with your routine, you are already losing the fight to stay motivated towards reaching your goals.
- Get an extra mood boost: The exposure to the outdoors has a tremendous positive effect on your mental, emotional, and physical state. Not only will you get to enjoy the endorphin boost that comes with all exercise, but you’re also getting Vitamin D, and enjoying the other mental health benefits that come with fresh air and natural surroundings.
- Built-in fitness challenges: To challenge your routine indoors, you have to make a conscious decision to turn up your resistance, increase your incline, or the like. Nature, wonderfully, includes many built-in challenges that push you to new heights. For example, running or hiking outdoors are great ways to improve your proprioception by dodging tree roots, branches, and potholes throughout your surroundings.
- Convenience is key: With an outdoor workout, excuses like “I can’t find the time” just don’t fly because an outdoor workout is incredibly convenient for busy schedules. To workout outside, all you have to do is step right out of your front door. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you do have extra time, exploring a scenic location or new park is an appeal to workout in itself.
Outdoor exercises are fantastic additions to your fitness routine, particularly if you are busy or easily bored. Remember though, you shouldn’t just limit your workouts to the outdoors, because a streak of bad weather, health concerns or the like make indoor exercise a better choice for many individuals.
Benefits of Indoor Workouts
- Reliability: The option of working out indoors is very reliable when Mother Nature doesn’t agree with your outdoor plans for the day. An indoor option allows you the chance to take fitness classes or train with a trainer and receive the motivational boost on a gloomy day.
- Help from People: If you have any health concerns that you are using exercise to treat, it’s a good idea to workout indoors with supervision from a team of fitness professionals. They will be there to ensure your form, intensity and time are right for you and help you avoid further injury. For example, if you have joint problems, this can be a great opportunity for you to workout on a piece of low-impact cardio equipment that you might not have used before.
- Well Rounded Routine: Health clubs come equipped with all the equipment you need for a complete, full-body workout. When you’re exercising outdoors, you’re at the mercy of your surroundings to provide you with the tools to reach that same full-body burn. Whether you’re an avid or just casual outdoor exerciser, you should still hit the gym for specialty strength and cardio equipment you cannot find in nature, or for compliments to your active lifestyle, like a whirlpool or yoga classes for recovery.
- Accountability: Having a health club membership provides accountability. You’re committed and investing financially in your health, which keeps you motivated to see a return on your investment. Not only are health club dues a great way to motivate you to check-in, but club services also provide accountability. If you have a standing appointment with your personal trainer, or have pre-registered for a group exercise class or fee-based program, you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable to show up.
- Community: Nature is beautiful, but outdoor workouts are often things you do alone. When you visit a health club, however, you’re walking in the door of a community of like-minded friends. Having other people around to help you out, cheer you on, hold you accountable, and to chat with before, during and after your workout makes exercise feel fun and social, and like less of a chore.
Finding the Balance
Both indoor and outdoor workouts have advantages, so we encourage you to find the balance that compliments your fitness wants and needs. If you already have a regular fitness routine, consider shaking things up this summer! It is proven that getting out of your usual routine can help jump start your body to surpass the plateaus that are leaving you stuck. So get outdoors and benefit or stop indoors and benefit as well!