Though we prefer the climate-controlled, convenience of working out indoors, especially during the very hot, dry and rainy seasons here in Nigeria, studies suggests that there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent bike or indoor track.
You stride differently when running outdoors. For one thing, the body performs better with the abundance of oxygen in the air. Studies find that people flex their ankles more when they run outside. They also, at least occasionally, run downhill, a movement that isn’t easily done on a treadmill and that stresses muscles differently than running on a flat or uphill terrain. Outdoor exercise tends to be more strenuous than the indoor version. Treadmill runners burn less energy to cover the same distance, compared to those running outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.
I work out 5 to 6 days a week, 4 of those days are outdoors. Personally I feel that there are more advantages to going outside to work out. I find that it increases my vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem. It also lowers tension; depression and fatigue. Those who exercise outside are able to longer and more often than those working out indoors. On average, about 30 minutes more each week than those who walked or otherwise exercised indoors. Exercising outside improves dispositions and inspire greater commitment to an exercise program.
Studies have found that people have lower blood levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, after exerting themselves outside as compared to being inside. Moving their routines outside could help reluctant or inconsistent exercisers. I’m seeing gradual changes nationally in physical activity levels in Nigeria, but gyms are not always the answer. Get involved in physical activities held outdoors, join a bootcamp like the ones I have every week on Banana Island, join a running or cycling club. It’ll surprise you the difference it makes.
So if you have limited time and want to burn as many calories as possible or get fit in a relatively short period of time, then you should hit the road Jack, instead of the gym.