Two innate truths about human beings are that we are made to move and we are meant to be in nature. Hence, we’re also made to be active outside.
As organic bodies, we are designed to move in diverse ways—through all the planes of motion; going over, under, and around; working our joints through their complete ranges of motion; and more. Moving in all the different ways nature intended keeps our bodies healthy. “When you move in diverse and functional ways, you free up your range of motion and unlock your body so you can move more efficiently,” says certified personal trainer Brian Bradley.
This type of all-over-and-around movement is intrinsic to outdoor adventures, but today’s gym culture has removed the innate human necessity to get outside and run around in the fresh air.
If you tend to stick to indoor exercise, you may want to reconsider your workout environment. “Low-level aerobic movement in nature tends to be more powerful than movement in a fitness studio,” says holistic coach Jator Pierre, C.S.C.S. Here are six reasons to take advantage of the remaining warm fall days and, as winter approaches, to layer up so you continue to reap the benefits of outdoor workouts.
Outdoor Workouts Are Powerful Stress-Relievers
Plenty of research finds that simply being surrounded by nature has the power to relieve stress, increase creative output, and soothe both body and mind. And pairing a natural environment with movement amps up the benefits.
When we’re stressed, the body releases neurotransmitters and hormones to shift us into fight-or-flight mode. While this is super helpful if the stress is caused by a bear chasing us, if the stress is something like a work deadline and we can’t move, glucose, cortisol, and adrenaline can build up in our bodies, leading to oxidative damage to the tissues, Pierre says. On the other hand, moving in a natural environment helps us use those natural chemicals, in turn lessening our angst, he explains.