According to weather reports, this week temperatures in the UK could hit record levels. On Friday, it's thought the mercury level could hit as high as 35 degrees, making some parts of Blighty warmer than places such as Spain, Jamaica and Costa Rica.
If there was ever a time to post a story about the benefits of doing a workout outdoors, it's now. But do be careful, working out in warmer climes can be dangerous. Try not to exercise during the warmest part of the day (12pm to 2pm) and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Oh, and suncream. Lots of it.
1/ You Only Need 5 Minutes
Park your excuses. According to Environmental Science and Technology journal, just five minutes walking in green space is enough to reduce stress and increase your motivation to stay active. In their research, those who exercised within view of a river or lake experienced the biggest mental boost. Best reroute that commute.
2/ A Park Run Burns More Calories Than a Treadmill
Wind resistance lifts your calorie burn by up to 10%, according to Harvard Medical studies. However, it’s your joints that really stand to benefit here, as the firm, flat surface of a treadmill places more stress on your knees and ligaments. Time to rage against the machines.
3/ Got a Dog? You're More Likely To Hit Your Exercise Targets
Man’s best friend could also be his most effective training partner. According to Michigan State University, dog owners are a third more likely to exercise for the recommended time per week than the general population, as their outdoor workout plans aren’t derailed by poor weather.
Alternatively, encourage your PT to turn on the ‘puppy dog eyes’ when you don’t feel like lacing up.
4/ We Can Almost Guarantee That You're Spending Too Much Time Indoors
According to a University of California at Berkeley survey, we spend just 7% of our time in the great outdoors. And this is research coming out of sunny California, so we can only imagine how the figures stack up for a guy in Stoke-On-Trent.
Swap lunchtime Twitter-scrolling for a screenbreak: just 10 minutes of outdoor activity can boost your creativity reports the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
5/ Sign Up for a Race Event and Form a Friendly Rivalry
A rivalry will supercharge your 5K performance, according to a SAGE Publications study. Human competition amps up your testosterone, pushing you in ways no cardio-machine countdown can. Set a ‘loser buys the first round’ policy if competing against actual enemies proves hard to orchestrate.
6/ Training Outdoors Boosts Your Self-esteem. But Which Type of Exercise is Better?
If you’re chasing the feel-good factor rather than a PB, a stroll should be your activity of choice. Big ideas to pitch at work? Turn your next brainstorming session into a Silicon Valley-esque power-walking meeting. It’ll give your confidence an upgrade.
7/ Booking an Outdoor Fitness Class Makes You More Likely to Stick to it
Men who train in the open air enjoy it more, according to research by Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, while Canada’s University of Sherbrooke found higher attendance rates for outdoor sessions compared to gym classes. More space and less queuing were cited as reasons. A respite from gurning bros and chart remixes probably helps too.
8/ It Will Keep Your Vitamin D Topped-up
Five to 30 minutes twice a week will keep your D levels at optimum, according to the National Institutes of Health. That’s a weekday jog and Sunday morning calisthenics in the park. Schedule sessions for 11am-3pm when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. Don’t overdo it though; no summer six-pack will make up for a lobster’s complexion.
9/ Does Gardening Count?
Ain’t nothing weedy bout weeding! A Konkuk University study found that digging and mulching counts as a proper workout. Weeding has been given an MET score of 5 (that’s it’s ‘metabolic equivalent’ value; anything over 3 is considered high-intensity). Digging scored highest with a value of 6.3 – the same as weightlifting.
10/ Heat Things Up
Your gym’s aircon could be freezing your fitness gains. In a University of Oregon study, cyclists saw a 7% improvement in performance after 10 days of ‘heat exposure’ training.
Exercising in warm weather improves your ability to regulate body temperature and helps the heart pump more blood to your muscles. Returning to the gym will feel like a (cool) breeze.
11/ You Could Lose More Weight Compared to Working Out in the Gym
Men who get their sweat on outside of the gym lose, on average, half a stone more than indoor types, say researchers at California Pacific Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. They also have 6% less body fat. And better tans, presumably.
12/ You'll Be Able to Train Longer
Trading the crosstrainer for a few laps of the local park could help you log an extra half hour, reports the Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity – long enough to burn an additional 250 calories.
This has been attributed to a reduction in boredom. Step off the beaten track and watch that figure multiply. There’s always Google Maps…
13/ Your Immune System Gets a Boost
Train among the trees. A study in the International Journal of Immunopathology found that breathing in small amounts of airborne plant chemicals improves your immune responses by 50%. No need to go the full Tarzan either.
14/ Go Alternative
Scaling a rock-face for 60 minutes burns through 700-900 calories. By comparison, canoeing uses up 500 calories, and volleyball around 350. Stage your own, alternative triathlon and just imagine how wasted you could legitimately get...
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