This story originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Cincinnati Health & Life Magazine.
Sure, a climate-controlled
gym with all the bells and whistles
can be a pleasant place to work
out, especially in winter, but science
suggests there are powerful benefits to
leading an active lifestyle in the great
When the weather permits, take
your activity out in nature for a variety
of benefits to body, mind and soul.
Writer Laura Ingalls Wilder was on to
something when she said, “Some old fashioned
things, like fresh air and
sunshine, are hard to beat.” And now,
there’s research to support her claim.
Boost Energy and Reduce Tension
For example, a team from England’s
Peninsula College of Medicine and
Dentistry analyzed 11 trials that included
more than 800 adults. They found that,
when compared with indoor exercise,
outdoor exercise was associated with
increased energy and revitalization, as
well as decreased confusion, anger,
depression and tension.
Outdoor exercisers also reported
enjoying their workouts more, and
were more likely to say they planned
to repeat them than exercisers who
were holed up inside a gym. Many also
had lower levels of cortisol (a hormone
produced in response to stress) than
their indoor counterparts, and said
exposure to sunlight improved their
mood. In addition, people who walked
outdoors completed an average of 30
minutes more exercise per week than
those who exercised indoors.
So, which outdoor activities provide
the greatest benefit? Walking is at the
top of the list. It boosts cardio, is gentle
on the joints, strengthens bones, can be
done almost anywhere and is free. From
a mental-health standpoint, it can reduce
stress, improve mood and spark creativity.
Gardening is another favorite outdoor
activity for many. It promotes tranquility
and relaxation, and has many physical
benefits as well.
According to the Centers for Disease
Control, moderate activity, such as
active gardening, for as little as twoand-
a-half hours each week can reduce
risk of obesity, high blood pressure,
Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke
Keep it Simple and Start Kids Early
Outdoor activities can be as simple as
teaching a grandchild to ride a bike,
shooting hoops with friends, hiking or
going for a brisk swim.
If you have children, introduce them
to outdoor fun at an early age. They’ll be
more likely to carry your example into
their teen and adult years, when stressbusting
and health-enhancing activities
become even more vital.
Being active outdoors lets you improve
your fitness, while enjoying nature and
relieving daily stress in the process. Now
that’s what we call effective multitasking.