Good article I found on Dick's Sporting Goods website...
While the benefits of exercise are well known, not many people realize that working out outdoors can be even greater for your health. In fact, studies show that going green with your gym routine may not only help you blast more calories but can improve your concentration and your mood. So now that the weather is warm, here are 10 reasons your body will thank you for sweating it out under the sun.
1. You’ll Challenge Different Muscles
Trainers will always tell you to switch up your workouts because your body quickly learns exactly what to expect from the machines at the gym. But if you’re a sucker for routine, simply taking your three-mile run from the treadmill to a rougher terrain is an easy solution. Studies find that you stride differently when running outdoors. Not only do you flex your ankles more, you’ll also inevitably head downhill, one feature that indoor cardio equipment has yet to replicate. Just make sure you’ve got the right shoes (experts suggest sizing up a shoe size so that your foot has space to move), pick your footpath, and prepare to feel a different kind of sore.
2. You’ll Stimulate Your Senses
Even if you already mix up your routine with studio classes, there’s something to be said about taking those activities outdoors while the weather permits. Outdoor classes add a different dimension to one’s practice and, in terms of yoga, pare it down to its original link with nature. A breeze can help deepen your breath work just as the warmth from the sun can deepen poses by making muscles more elastic. If you’re worried about comfort, you can use two thick mats for the outdoors. If you want a greater challenge, uneven surfaces such as sand and grass can intensify your poses even more.
3. You’ll Burn More Calories
Ever wonder why you barely break a sweat after 20 minutes on the elliptical but you wish you packed an extra shirt after bolting to make the morning bus? At least part of it is simply because outdoor exercise tends to be more strenuous than the indoor, controlled version. Studies show that treadmill runners expend less energy to cover the same distance as those pounding the pavement outdoors primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain. The same goes for cycling, where wind drag can result in much greater demand. So next time your spin class is booked up, don’t fret. Just grab your own bike and hit the road.
4. You’ll Save Time
Not only will you burn off more of that weekend barbecue, you can achieve greater results in a shorter amount of time thanks to nature’s curve balls (think rough terrain, wind, or just the scorching sun). Even just 20 minutes can do the trick: Studies show that high-intensity workouts are more effective at burning fat than steady-state endurance training. And there’s no equipment needed. Just come ready in comfortable, moisture-wicking apparel and you’ll be guaranteed to work up a sweat with a HIIT routine made up of burpees, squats, and other bodyweight exercises.
5. You’ll Go Harder for Longer
Some gym-goers are looking at the clock from the second they step inside—and can you really blame them? It’s no secret that working out indoors isn’t the most exciting way to spend an hour. According to experts, the easiest way to combat boredom and make time pass faster is just outside your window. Once you get outside, studies show you’ll accumulate more time being active. A jog around your neighborhood can easily turn into 5-mile run when you’ve got new and constantly changing scenery to distract you from the actual workout. Just take a peek at your Fitbit when you’re done, and you may even be surprised about how far you’ve gone.
6. You’ll Be Happier
Exercising outdoors has no shortage of psychological benefits as well, starting with your mood. In a number of recent studies where volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance, one inside and the other outdoors, virtually all volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more. Additionally, on subsequent psychological tests, participants scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem after they walked outside. If you want to delve even deeper, several studies have also found that people have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, after exerting themselves outside versus inside. So whether it’s grabbing a jump rope or setting up TRX at the park, there’s no shortage of activities that will have you smiling in no time.
7. You’ll Boost Your Concentration
Maybe it was the week of college finals or between fifth and sixth drafts of that important email you were drafting that you noticed stepping out for some fresh air was enough to help you think more clearly. Now there’s evidence to back your premonition up. One study found that kids with ADHD were able to concentrate better after a walk in the park versus an urban environment, while another found that individuals involved in outdoor activities for six weeks reported increased well-being, protecting them from future stresses and helping them think more clearly.
8. You’ll Up Your Self-Esteem
Exercise has long been linked to producing endorphins (chemicals that trigger positive feelings in the body), but a study conducted by the University of Essex indicates that an outdoor workout can also improve self-esteem. So if you’re one of those folks who doesn’t like giving it your all in front of all those other eyes at the gym, just pick a secluded outdoor spot for a solo run or jump rope session.
9. You’ll Do It More Often
If you consider the hardest part of the gym to be getting there, you may find an outdoor routine is much easier to stick to. Researchers have found that adults who exercised outside were significantly more physically active than those who exercised indoors, completing about 30 minutes more exercise each week. Additionally a 2011 survey found that outdoor exercisers have a greater intention to repeat the activity at a later date than gym-goers. Invest in some good compression gear to reduce swelling and fatigue, aiding recovery and getting you back outside quicker than ever.
10. You Can Invite Friends
There’s no reason you can’t relive your high school glory days as captain of the soccer team. One of the greatest advantages of the great outdoors is that you can take on sports as opposed to individual activities. Convince your pals to join a softball or ultimate Frisbee league and you’ll get all the social perks along with the physical benefits. Plus, you’ll be more inclined to work out on the weekend if your friends waiting for you at the park instead of a bottomless brunch.