No expensive joining fee; no monthly payments; open 24/7; no waiting for equipment; constantly changing scenery; and no travel time to get there. Too good to be true? Not when we are talking about the great outdoors becoming your new ‘green gym’. So good is the offer, over 8.5 million people each year use the great outdoors for their exercise fix, and, your ‘green gym’ doesn’t have to be a national park: countryside; forests; the seaside; parks; and even gardens offer the same positive benefits to your exercise program.
We all understand that exercise helps our physical and mental health, all of which holds true for your ‘green gym’ except it can provide even greater benefits. Recent evidence has demonstrated that, compared with exercising indoors, outdoor activity results in a significantly greater improvement in mental well-being. Just by taking your session into the natural environment will lead to improved mood and self-esteem, higher energy levels and leave you feeling more revitalized. Importantly, during the winter months when 1 in 3 people in the UK are affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), exercising outdoors provides the all-important exposure to natural light which is crucial in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life (you also get the added bonus of a Vitamin D fix!). Because of the changing weather and the seasons, the great outdoors provides a constantly changing environment meaning that no two sessions are the same. In addition, the flexibility to change your route, your exercising buddies and the time of day you exercise, means there are so many ways to create a new exercise experience. Your green gym provides unparalleled variety which will add fun and enjoyment to your exercise program now and into the future. Combined, outdoor exercisers report greater enjoyment and satisfaction which increases the endorphin related psychological benefits of exercise compared to indoor exercise.
Interestingly, green exercise alters the perception of effort resulting in a greater intensity of exercise without the perception of effort changing; more bang for your buck! Green exercisers are also more likely to exercise for longer, more often and maintain an exercise program in the long-term. In addition to physical and mental health gains, your green gym creates greater opportunity for socializing. Rather than exercising in isolation in the gym, you can exercise with as many friends as your breathing rate will allow!
In short, green space is a more energizing space; green space is a happier space; green space is a more productive space; and green space is a friendlier space. My advice is to get outdoors, join your green gym and improve the quality, and length, of your life.