A few years back, I got my gym membership with one of my friends. The next few weeks were exciting as our exercise journey progressed.
As we were more into fitness than muscle building, treadmills, cross trainers, flywheels, and light weights became our friends. However, as soon as the initial exuberance was over, sweating out in a confined space, waiting in queue for others to finish, and the daily task of dressing up and driving to the gym started to dwindle our spirits.
The five-day-a-week cycle was reduced to three days, which was further reduced to one, and sometimes not going for many days, after realizing that paying money for a gym membership, which we don’t intend to use, it was better to cancel and try to exercise at home.
I realized that exercising at home and doing yoga was safer, more convenient, and cheaper. While the fancy equipment at the gym was not available at home, I fared much better in my regularity. It was done at my convenience and sometimes with the help of fitness videos.
I continued my indoor exercise routine during the pandemic, even after shifting to a new city.
After the pandemic, as things started to open, on a suggestion from a colleague, I decided to start my physical routine at a nearby park, which had a lot of trees, a sequence of flower beds and provided a nice little green space for walking, running, Yoga, and general exercises.
The first day of doing my exercises in the park was pure bliss – running under the shade of different varieties of trees, watching people from all age groups indulge in their routines, and breathing fresh air.
It has been a wonderful journey since then, and I thought to share the benefits of exercising outdoors here.
The feel of the Fresh Air
The biggest benefit of exercising outdoors was the sensation of fresh air. Exercising at the gym and at home, the confined space restricts our access to the outside world and also makes us inhale indoor air, which mostly relies on artificial air circulation.
However, when I moved my exercises to a park, I breathed in fresh air because of the trees and had an incredible feeling of the gushes of wind touching my face. Sometimes, doing mild exercises in the Sun also helped me receive precious Vitamin D, which is essential for our bodies.
More than Physical fitness, it is great for mental fitness
When we exercise, the main objectives are to lose weight, build muscle, or achieve general physical fitness. Still, I have discovered that exercising outdoors can remarkably relax my mind, boost my mood, reduce my anxiety, and spur my creative thoughts and ideas.
As physical activity stimulates more blood and oxygen to the brain, our mental and cognitive ability also sharpens.
Running is Physically Challenging
I’m unsure if this applies to everyone who runs outdoors, but in my experience, running in the park is much more strenuous than doing it on a treadmill. On a treadmill, I could set my speed and incline based on convenience, while running outdoors has surprises.
The ever-changing terrain, natural up-and-down slopes, dodging the people, and inconsistent speed meant it was physically challenging.
Encountering People and Forming Social Groups
In my case, I prefer doing it all by myself, but I have seen people forming a community of like-minded and fitness freak individuals. In the park where I go, it is common to see a group of youngsters doing rigorous exercises; then, some people indulge in Yoga, light exercise, playing games, etc, as a group activity.
Glimpsing different kinds of people from all walks of life, observing their fitness routines, and seeing them smile while you walk past them is a pleasure that I never found in a gym.
Use Exercise Equipment and Props
Apart from the exercises that do not need any equipment or can be done with some basic props like a railing or a platform, many parks these days have installed basic outdoor gym equipment – Skywalker, Chest Press, Pendulum, Twister, Hand Rotators, etc, which means many of the gym exercises can be done at Parks.
It Doesn’t Cost A Penny
Visiting city parks or community gardens is mostly free, which means apart from the transport cost, if any, exercising outdoors incurs no cost. Instead of paying for an expensive gym membership, you can use the money to buy plants for your home.
Reduce Carbon Emission
Another benefit of exercising outdoors is your contribution to reducing carbon emissions. Using air conditioners, treadmills, cross trainers, and other electrical gym equipment incurs carbon emissions, which can be avoided if we exercise outdoors.
This article is only a personal view of my experience of exercising outdoors versus doing it in the confines of a gym or home.
The benefits of exercising in a gym, under the watchful eyes of a trainer, cannot be denied, so one should consider their fitness goals and act accordingly.
The article is contributed by Varun, founder of Change Started.