10 Unexpected Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Last updated December 21, 2023

If you’re in the mood for something fun and gets you moving, rev up your usual routine with outdoor exercise. You won’t believe these 10 unexpected benefits!  

We all know that fresh air and exercise is good for us. We’ve been told to go outside and play since we were kids. But as we get older and time sort of speeds up, many of us have forgotten how and why we enjoyed it in the first place. As working adults, we often find that we don’t have enough time to fit outdoor play in anymore.

Instead, we A, push our workouts off because we have other goals in the forefront; B, just make a pit stop at the gym part of our routine; C, do a workout video online; or D, hit the yoga studio at lunch to at least get some movement in before picking the kids up from school. 

While I applaud working adults for being conscious enough to schedule exercise any way we can, there are many surprising reasons to take another look at why outdoor exercise is beneficial to whole-being health. These reasons include mental, emotional, spiritual and physical benefits. 

Here is an adult list to appeal to the adult mind. These 10 unexpected benefits are why making outdoor exercise a part of your life will help you be your best. No matter your age, income or levels of free time. 

Proven Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

1. Chemical Cocktail

Outdoor exercise for 30 minutes plus will give you the mood boost you need… in one yummy shot. Natural sunlight Increases the famous “happy hormones,” dopamine and serotonin. Exercise produces endorphins, hormones that boost mood and reduce pain. But you have to be in direct sunlight to get the benefits of this specific cocktail. Sunlight does not work the same through a glass windowpane at the gym. 

2. Vitamin D

This vitamin is an essential nutrient that the body cannot make on its own. It’s also one of the most common vitamin deficiencies worldwide. The main way that our bodies make Vitamin D is through direct exposure to sunlight, specifically UVB rays. By taking your workout outside, the sun’s UVB rays stimulate a molecule in your skin called 7-Dehydrocholesterol, which then turns into Vitamin D3. 

Vitamin D is critical to the overall health of our immune systems, brain, heart, bones, muscles, as well as our nervous system and nearly all of our vital organs. If you are worried about sun burn and skin damage, exercise in the early morning or put a natural sunscreen on after the first half an hour. 

Note: If you are older than 65 or have a darker skin tone, you will have a harder time metabolizing sunlight to D3. Supplementation is advisable.

3. Save Time and Money

Save time and money by walking right out your door and doing some kind of exercise wherever you are. Try going for a walk or a bike ride. You can also do 100 weighted lunges in the street, yoga in your yard and even gardening. If you get bored and decide to explore beyond your normal micro-location; do a little research to change it up. You will find many new, exciting free to low-cost outdoor exercise opportunities. Depending on where you live or are visiting, you could hike the national park, surf or swim at the beach, run up museum stairs, snorkel, climb—and probably other activities you never even knew existed. 

4. Create New Neural Pathways

When we break out of a routine and try something different, new neural pathways begin to form immediately in the brain. This is called neuroplasticity. And this is a good thing because we want to remain open-minded so we don’t go through life like robots ingrained in habits we no longer enjoy. 

The brain is stimulated when we try new things and mix up routine. It needs to stay present to be alert to the new challenges of the non-familiar physical experience. When we stay present and focused on the new trail or other outdoor exercise, there is no chance of drifting into autopilot. These same pathways that we make all decisions with won’t take over because we are now in a new situation and do not know what to expect. In this way, the quantum field of all possibilities opens back up to us and the brain rewires itself without the use of drugs. 

5. Sleep Better

Getting sunlight and exercise in fresh air is the best way to get a good night sleep. By getting more daylight in the day, our eyes and skin drink up the natural light aligning our bodies with nature’s circadian rhythm. So our sleep is naturally more rejuvenating with more ability to repair cells. 

6. Boost Spiritual-Emotional Health

Humans have energetic body layers that form an aura before expanding out into the universal field. The four primary layers are physical body, emotional body, mental body and spiritual body.

The spiritual and emotional body layers need nurturing for optimal whole being health. An easy way to do this is to spend time in nature.  Things like taking a moment to gaze at a beautiful flower, appreciating the Fibonacci spiral in that flower or in the detail of a shell on the beach then sending gratitude to the universe for your place in it as you widen your gaze to look over the ocean into the colorful, expanding horizon will give your emotional and spiritual bodies this kind of primal nurturing they crave. 

7. Calm Anxiety

Outdoor exercise without a headset or other human contact avoiding device is bad ass. When we sync up with nature, we give the overstimulated mind a rest from society’s now normal mental barrage of texts, DMs, emails, social media, ads, dating apps and other tings.

Time in nature is one of the most effective ways to gently revive and enhance our sense of peace and calm. People with moderate to severe anxiety will appreciate even a few hours away from wires and Internet as this gives the nervous system a much-needed rest allowing it to reset to its own frequency. 

8. Increase Self-Confidence

“Nature is the best therapist,” is a saying for a reason. When you get yourself outdoors to exercise you feel better, look better—and those perks add up to increased self-confidence. Feeling connected to nature is a major win. 

9. Be Here Now

Outdoor exercise helps you stay present! Whether hiking a trail, riding a bike in the city, rollerblading by the coast, surfing or swimming; whatever your sport is, you’ll be paying attention moment to moment because the outdoors is not predictable like a treadmill. Your mind cannot wander into the past or future where anxiety is created when challenged by new terrain and physical experience. Working out outdoors has similar benefits to seated mediation. In this way, it helps you stay present and be in the now where all possibilities are in the quantum field.

10. Best Ideas

If you can find and stay in this equal opportunity meditative state called “being a part of nature” for a while, there is a clear opportunity.  Sometimes you get your best ideas this way. Try it next time you have a problem to solve! 

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