MOVEMENT: 5 Perks of embracing the great outdoors

Taking full advantage of available nature options is a great way to rejuvenate your mind and get moving in a new environment. You might find a sense of adventure, or just engage your mind by providing new stimuli. The biggest benefit of getting outside might just be a break from the four walls of your house. Even if that’s true, here are six other perks.

1. New challenges

An outdoor workout provides a tangible goal for some new motivation. If you were only able to make it a quarter of the way up a steep hike, for example, make a goal to try again next month after stepping up your training. Keeping that hike in mind might help you get up earlier to train, make the right food choice, or just be more excited about your workout.

2. Improved focus

Doing the same workout in the same surroundings makes it easy for your brain to tune out and run on autopilot. Outdoor exercise can present your mind with new challenges. For example, on a trail run or hike, you have to keep watch on your footing and meter your breathing. That leaves little room for your mind to wander and forces you to stay in the present moment.

3. Disconnecting from a busy world

If you’re looking for mental recovery, being outdoors has proven rejuvenating benefits. The Japanese concept of “forest bathing” has been shown to help people disconnect from the busy world and reconnect with nature.

Distancing from man-made bustle naturally calms the body — slowing your heart rate and decreasing oxidative stress, which in turn helps improve inflammation and improve immunity. As little as 20 minutes with less noise and more plants and wildlife can help you reap the benefits.

4. Fresh workouts

Getting outside can help you break out of your at-home workout rut. Try to create balance with a variety of activities. For something new, try some of these suggestions:

  • Explore your neighborhood on foot.
  • Create an obstacle course in your backyard.
  • Try some sports performance drills at your local park.
  • Pull your bike out of the garage and see where the road takes you.
  • Find a local trail and meet up to hike with friends.

5. Workday breaks

Feeling burned out by your workload? The answer may be just outside your door. One study found that a short bout of low-intensity exercise, like a walk or climbing some stairs, is more effective than a shot of espresso. So consider that the next time you’re fighting the afternoon fog.

Or if your schedule is too packed to fit in an outdoor break, call into your next meeting on your phone instead of your computer and take a walk around the block. The change of environment might be just the breakthrough you need.