The Good and Bad of Outdoor Workouts
I’ve been working out a few times outdoors lately, and I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty life changing. Outdoor workouts really remind me of being a kid again—getting dirty, the feel of the sun on your skin, the smell of the grass and the wind in the air, the sound of traffic and birds…All of it is extremely reminiscent of my childhood, and I’m sure others would share that sentiment. While it can be nice, there are also some downsides to working out while outside. So which is better, working out outside or indoors, like in your home or a gym? Well, I’m going to weigh the pros and cons of doing your workout outside, and you can judge for yourself!
This road is behind my home, and is flanked on either side by hills. Therefore, it is perfect for exercising outside and easy to fit into a busy schedule!
Pro – Fresh Air
It’s already been proven that fresh air can do wonders for your mood. A lot of the time that I skip my workout, it’s because I’m feeling crummy or lazy. A little bit of fresh, sweet air and being surrounded by sunshine and green is sometimes all I need to get myself in a fighting mood. I feel like the natural energy of the sun and the air can really energize and motivate you, like a solar battery or something!
Con – Weather
The bad part about working out around nature is that sometimes, the sky darkens and rain starts falling. You can pretty much always have a workout indoors, but if you want to go outside, inclement weather can prevent you from heading out. On the other hand, if it’s too hot, you can run the risk of dehydration, heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, none of which is very fun (actually, they are downright dangerous!) And don’t even get me started on the sun. Sunburn is no fun, so make sure you slather yourself in plenty of sunscreen before going out, waterproof for bonus points so you don’t end up sweating it off too soon.
Pro – Lots of Options
When exercising outdoors, you have tons of options for what you can do. I like to bring out my dumbbells and kettlebell to get some strength training in there, but even if you don’t have any equipment, you can usually make do with just your body and the ground! I’m lucky enough to live somewhere that’s perfect for running and exercising. Not only is there a bike trail just down the street, but I live on a hill, making uphill squats, sprints, and lunges a great and effective workout that leaves my legs burning the next morning (in the best of ways).
Con – Not a Lot of Options
On the flip side, some people may not be happy with working out outside with no equipment. Be it a treadmill or resistance machines, some people just prefer to use physical equipment, have lots of choices, and/or have their calories, heart rate, speed, weight, etc. right there in front of them. While I believe that more unstructured workouts can be beneficial if sprinkled in at least once a week with your regular workouts, this approach may not work for everybody.
Part of my backyard
Pro – It’s Free!
One of the biggest (and most obvious) pros is that working out outside is absolutely free! You can go pretty much anywhere—run around the block and take in the sights, or head down to the park and exercise there. The possibilities are endless, and they don’t cost you a dime. You can work out in the early morning or late evening, when it’s cooler and the sun isn’t beating down, and you can usually count on less traffic and people to watch you or get in your way (this is important for me personally). Try working out at different times of day to see what works best for you.
Con – Bugs
If you’re exercising outside, chances are it’s during the months that the weather is warmer and bugs are running rampant. Sometimes I have trouble getting through a yoga flow before ants start marching up and down my arms. I personally hate bugs, any insects, really, and they gross me out. Not to mention bites, like mosquito and ant bites, which can itch and be irritated for several days after the fact. Of course, bug spray can help, or essential oils, but really, there’s no 100% foolproof way to keep all bugs off of you forever. But if you want to work out outside, you might just have to suck it up and ignore the critters as best you can. On the other hand, in my backyard I’ve seen birds, bunnies, and even a deer once! So those critters aren’t quite as unwelcome or annoying. In fact, they are actually quite cute! (That was my first time seeing a deer so close–it was about 10 yards away–and it was lovely.)
Pro – Time
Who always has the time to drive through traffic, find parking, and drive back, all for the sake of working out at the gym? Not everyone can do it, but stepping outside for 20 mins of working out on that aforementioned hill can be quick, easy, and really burn off some calories, all in the time it’d take you to even drive to your gym! While working out inside can be just as quick as going outside, if the weather is nice, you might as well, am I right? Plus there are no hills indoors. I know I’m getting repetitive, but I cannot stress how much I love hills for working out. The point is, you can fit more dynamic workouts into 20 mins outside, which is perfect if you want to workout before work or school, for example.
Well, there you have it! A few of my pros and cons for exercising outdoors. What did you think of these pros and cons? Any more you’d add to the list? How do you feel about working out outside vs. inside or at a gym? Let me know in the comments down below, I’d love to hear from you!