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Outdoor Workouts: Too (Hot? Cold? Embarrassed?) for an Outdoor Workout?

May 03, 2021

Think again. The Benefits are Tremendous!

COVID-19 has brought many challenges to both the fitness industry and fitness consumer alike. Before COVID, Americans largely associated exercise with a trip to the gym or studio, but the pandemic has forced many to sweat it out at home. As a result, digital workouts, have become the norm. In March 2020, the fitness industry saw a 147% increase in consumption of digital fitness purchases, while YouTube announced that since March 15, daily views of home workout videos saw a 515% uptick. (1)

Despite the innovative features offered by leading digital fitness brands (e.g., live-streamed classes, leaderboards and star trainers), the one piece of the fitness puzzle that continues to be missing is the energy and community of a live workout class. As such, alongside the rise in digital fitness has been the increase of outdoor fitness. A recent RunRepeat survey revealed that half of the respondents said outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking and outdoor classes, will be their primary mode of exercise in 2021. (2)

 [The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise]

  1. Reduced Risk of COVID Transmission. While the risk of transmission isn’t completely eliminated with outdoor fitness classes, health experts say it’s significantly lower. Dr. Weisenberg of the Cleveland Clinic says that the risk is much lower than indoor workouts “as long as you are outside and social distancing is maintained. Mask wearing can further reduce this risk.” (3) Notably, while the CDC recommends maintaining at least six feet apart, health experts advise farther, if possible. In a class where you’ll be moving in all types of directions, it’s best to spread farther apart if you can. (3)

 

  1. Increased Activity Level. Research shows that exercising outside requires more energy, forcing our bodies to get better workouts. Outdoor elements such as high or low temperatures, wind and terrain provide a natural resistance to make our bodies adapt and work harder. In addition, outdoor workouts “reduce perceived effort and allows individuals to work at higher workloads.” (4)

 

  1. Mental Health Boost. What is it about movement in nature with fresh air and sunshine that makes us feel so much better? According to Martin Diedermeier, professor of sport science at the University of Innsbruck, it has to do with the powerful combination of exercise and exposure to nature. The physical activity is invigorating while seeing nature relieves stress. The two together provide a benefit far beyond either one alone. (4)

 

  1. Socialization and Human Connection. Being cooped up for months because of the pandemic can take its toll, leaving even the most mentally stable to feel downright lonely. A recent study showed that older adults who participate in group fitness classes reported decreased loneliness and isolation. Even one session led to reduced feelings of loneliness. (2)

 

[Don’t pack up your outdoor workout gear for the winter!]

Cold temperatures can discourage the most motivated exercisers. But you don’t have to let cold weather stop your fitness routine. Try these tips for exercising safely during cold weather to stay fit, motivated and warm.

  1. Check weather conditions and wind chill. If the temperature dips below 5 F or if the windchill is extreme, consider an indoor workout.
  2. Dress in layers.
  3. Protect your head, hands, feet and ears.
  4. Stay hydrated

 

NOTE: Exercise is safe for almost everyone, even in cold weather. But if you have certain conditions, such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud's disease, check with your doctor first to review any special precautions you need based on your condition or your medications. (5)

SOURCES

  1. Finney, A. Fitness had a bumper year—and it’s not slowing down in 2021, either. (Dec. 2020). Well + Good Website. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.wellandgood.com/fitness-trends-2021/
  2. Capritto, A. The top fitness and wellness trends for 2021. (Dec. 2020). Very Well Fit Website. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.verywellfit.com/the-top-fitness-and-wellness-trends-for-2021-5092433
  3. Ayuda, T. Are outdoor fitness classes safe during the coronavirus pandemic? (Oct. 2020) Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.self.com/story/outdoor-fitness-classes-coronavirus-pandemic
  4. Hilton, C. et al. The mental and physical health benefits of outdoor workouts. Shape Website. (Oct. 2020). Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.shape.com/fitness/tips/outdoor-workout-study-physical-mental-benefits
  5. Mayo Clinic Website. Winter fitness: safety tips for exercising outdoors. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626

 

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