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Mar 15, 2012

Working Out Indoors Versus Outdoors

Whether walking on sunshine or hitting the treadmill, keep it up and expect to feel good. University of Exeter researchers took things a step further by examining the physical and mental effects of working out in natural environments as compared to indoors [3]. Studies on over 800 subjects were analyzed and ultimately suggested a greater decrease in tension and larger increase in energy after an outdoor workout. But the grass wasn’t always greener beyond gym walls, and the review also found that outdoor exercise decreases feelings of calmness. If fresh air is like nature’s energy drink, an outdoor workout before catching some shuteye might not be the best option.

Indeed, while outdoor exercise is a great way to get gym rats out of their cage, Mother Nature isn’t always nurturing. What’s hot and sweaty and red all over? A runner who forgot the sunscreen. When exercising in direct sunlight, it’s important to apply sweat resistant sunscreen in order to burn calories and not skin. Numerous environmental factors can also trigger respiratory problems like allergies and asthma, which, depending on the season, might turn that outdoor run into a pollen obstacle course.

The gym may also be a better option for social butterflies who like to work their muscles (while running their mouths). People generally experience higher levels of satisfaction and increased motivation when exercising in social spaces, often because they associate that latest, Greatist workout with their friends [4]. And for anyone who prefers a soft towel to dried bark, gyms usually take the edge on creature comforts.

Get the Best of Both Workouts – Your Action Plan

The best way to find a favorite workout environment is by trial (and perhaps a little error). Fortunately, some workouts combine the best of both. Many group fitness classes are heading outside, plus more and more gyms are offering safer alternatives to traditionally outdoor activities like rock climbing. As the line between indoor and outdoor exercise continues to blur, what’s becoming clear is that the where of the workout probably isn’t as important as the workout itself. Altering indoor and outdoor sessions is a great way to keep exercise exciting and, most importantly, fun.