The Benefits of Training Outdoors
You will often hear people complain that they can't afford a gym, or can't find the time to go to the gym. I offer an alternative: go outside. Perhaps the greatest gym that we can utilize is the great outdoors. From your backyard, to cities, parks, and untamed wilderness, there is an abundance of opportunities to train all around us; we need but look. Now while there are plenty of benefits of training outside, there are of course there are trade-offs. Read on for a list of both.
Benefit 1: Sunshine and Vitamin D
One of the most well known benefits is that of getting some good ol' sunshine. Getting sunlight for 10-30 minutes several times a week provides all the vitamin D (not that kinda D guys, we are keeping this PG) we need to maintain healthy blood levels. Now this is harder to do in colder climates, or places that have a lot of seasonal change. You can supplement with vitamin D, and if you do, make sure you are getting some vitamin K with it (helps with absorption). With that said, I still recommend going outdoors even in colder climates; there are still plenty of benefits of doing so.
Benefit 2: Stronger immune system
Another benefit of going outdoors is stronger immune system. When we go outside we interact with a full host of different bacteria, both good and bad. Think of it as training your immune system; all your cells get a little workout in when they interact with bacteria. Being stuck indoors in a sanitized area all of the time does not do your body or your mind any good. Get outside! And note: I'm saying go jump inside a city dumpster. Get out to the park - or even better - the woods. Breath in the fresh air and get some dirt on your skin!
Benefit 3: Makes you feel happier
Have you even been stuck inside all day with a bum mood, but as soon as you step outside with the sun on your face you feel alive? Another thing that being outside helps you with. Being outdoors, especially exercising outdoors, has been shown to boost certain neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins - both of which have been known to increase mood. There are multiple causes for this; from exposure to natural light, greenery and other colors, exclusion of city noises, smells, and more. And again, that's just from being outside; once you add some good movement to the mix, you have a recipe for feeling good.
Benefit 4: Makes you physically stronger
I like to think that nature is the best gym in the world. A few reasons for this: One, you can do pretty much every exercise in existence outside (sometimes requires portable equipment, or just a little creativity). Two, the unforgiving and perfectly imperfect environment will make you stronger. Think about this: in a gym, you have a flat ground, you have machines and bars with perfect grip, a sanitized area, and air conditioning. Outdoors you have uneven terrain, odd objects with not so perfect leverages and shapes, thick branches, and an ever changing environment (snow, heat, rain, etc.). These things will make you stronger, and not only in the "how much you can lift" way. You will become hard, from your skin to your mind. You will be able to deal with cold, heat, ice, rain. And a third reason: all of the other benefits I mentioned above are compounded together. Did I mention, it's free?
These are only a handful of benefits that I could think for training outdoors. I'm sure you could find many more. One thing is for sure: Being outside is good for you. It's what you've always known, because you have evolved to be outside; it's the reason why all these cascading benefits happen. So get out there and be more human!