Fitness

Get outside!

Why exercising outdoors improves your mood and mind

Chatelaine

There’s something about the sun on our skin and the wind in our hair that just makes us feel… better. Now that summer has finally arrived, it’s time for you to step off the treadmill in the basement, and come up for some fresh air. Getting outside is proven to do wonders for your mental and emotional well-being, so slap on some sunscreen and hit the trails.

Look good, feel good
Adding some scenery to your walking routine can instantly give you a healthy dose of confidence. In a recent study out of the U.K. published in Environmental Science & Technology, 60 percent of participants felt a boost in their self-esteem during the first five minutes of physical activity in a green space, and it stayed high throughout their workout. If you need more of a lift, organize a friendly neighbourhood baseball game or an afternoon at the beach; when the study participants spent the entire day among nature, their confidence shot even higher.

Be motivated
If you’re having trouble sticking to your exercise routine, the solution may be just outside your front door. Exercising in the outdoors increases the chances you’ll stick with a routine, says Toronto-based personal trainer Kathleen Trotter. “Going outside actually feels more enjoyable and less like a chore,” she says. “And anytime you can make exercising more fun, you’re more likely to do it.”

Stress less
If little annoyances are starting to chip away at your happiness, you may be spending too much time inside. Previous research from Jules Pretty, a professor of environment and society at the University of Essex and lead author of the U.K. study, has shown that working out in a natural setting reduces tension, anger and anxiety. Pretty says taking a walk outdoors helps us gain perspective by switching our focus from inward, on what’s bothering us, to what’s surrounding us. He recommends strolling through a park on your way to work. “It will make a world of difference to your day,” he says.