“Go Green” — Why Outdoor Exercise Has More Benefits

“Go Green” — Why Outdoor Exercise Has More Benefits

Being physically active is one of the most health-promoting things you can do. According to a 2020 analysis of 150 different scientific reviews, the benefits of exercise can be seen in all body systems including the immune, musculoskeletal, respiratory, hormonal, heart, and brain.1 There are literally head-to-toe, inside-out health benefits when you are physically active. Research also shows that you may reap even more health benefits if you are physically active outdoors.

What is Green Exercise?

Over the past decade, researchers have become interested in the added health benefits of “green exercise” which is being physically active in natural outdoor environments or neighborhood green spaces.2 

 A 2019 review found that when you exercise outdoors compared to indoors, you’ll have better general health and brain function, as well as less perceived stress.3 A 2023 study also found that exercising outdoors compared to indoors is better for the brain and can further enhance working memory, learning, and attention span.4

Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments is associated with increased feelings of relaxation, positivity, and more energy, and decreased feelings of tension, confusion, anger, and depression.5 To get the full effects of getting green exercise, consider forest bathing.

However, for many, this time of year can be difficult for people in some areas to be physically active outdoors. Let’s face it, exercising in the cold can be challenging.

Tips for Exercising in Cold Weather

There’s no need to let wintery weather weigh down your workout. There are plenty of outdoor winter activities that can keep you moving including ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and other outdoor activities. Even a simple walking exercise can be great for the mind and body.

The key to enhancing your cold weather exercise experience and staying consistent is to be prepared. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, including the wind, so you know what you’ll be up against once you get outside.

Wearing the right clothing is important including dressing in layers so you can take off a layer to avoid overheating. Proper attire for the head, hands, and feet is also very important when it comes to cold weather exercise. 

Don’t forget the sunscreen. Remember, when there is snow on the ground, the sun is even more reflective. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, warmup time should be doubled if you are exercising in the cold because it takes longer for muscles to acclimate to the weather.6

A growing amount of research shows that exercise is great but exercising in the great outdoors may be even better. Don’t let exercising in the cold intimidate you. It’s time to go green and get outside! 

For more tips on nutrition, mindful wellness practices, and helping your family feel their best, follow us on Facebook @kalvits and Instagram at @kalvitamins

References

  1. Posadzki P, Pieper D, Bajpai R, et al. Exercise/physical activity and health outcomes: an overview of Cochrane systematic reviews. BMC Public Health. 2020;20. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-020-09855-3
  2. Rogerson M, Wood C, Pretty J, et al. Regular doses of nature: the efficacy of green exercise interventions for mental wellbeing. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(5):1526. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7084199/
  3. Norwood M, Lakhani A, Maujean A, et al. Brain activity, underlying mood and environment: a systematic review. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 2019;65. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494419302397
  4. Boere K, Lloyd K, Binsted G, Krigolson OE. Exercising is good for the brain but exercising outside is potentially better. Scientific Reports. 2023;13. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-26093-2
  5. Thompson Coon J, Boddy K, Stein K, et al. Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environ Sci Technol. 2011;45(5):1761-72. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21291246/
  6. Weiss C. Mayo clinic Q&A: exercise safety in cold weather. Mayo Clinic News Network. 2023;Mar 2. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-exercise-safety-in-cold-weather/

 

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