Why the Outdoors is the Best Way to Get Physically Healthy

Why the Outdoors is the Best Way to Get Physically Healthy

By Kelsey KrahnAdventure Health

There's something incredible about exploring the outside world—and guess what? You get to reap a range of benefits when you take your workout outside, no matter how chill or intense it is. So whenever you need the motivation to get your body moving, consider an outdoor physical activity, such as walking, hiking, cycling, rollerblading, canoeing, and the list goes on!

Sweat while having fun

Scenario one: the sun glides through the window causing your eyes to flutter awake, but then you remember why you're waking up. Suddenly, images of an elliptical, treadmill, weights flood your brain, and you roll away from the sun and shut your eyes again.

Scenario two: the sun slides through the window causing your eyes to flutter awake, followed by images of a mountainscape, a glistening lake, and a meandering trail. You jolt out of bed without a second thought, toss your clothes on, and start dreaming about a day outside.

Of course, working out inside isn't necessarily bad—some enjoy it—but there's something magical about exploring a new trail, mountain biking a new path, or canoeing a lake you've never paddled before. The stunning surroundings kind of distract you from your elevated heart rate and beads of sweat collecting on your forehead.

And, even if you aren't hiking up a crazy incline, walking remains one of the best ways to boost your physical health. Therefore, even a walk around the neighbourhood can be a great way to get your legs moving. Several sources highlight that walking for just 30 minutes a day can benefit your heart, too.

Couple of friends enjoying a walk in a lush forest

Couple of friends enjoying a walk in a lush forest

Lower your carbon footprint

Did you know national parks absorb carbon emissions, creating better air quality for us mere mortals? Therefore, it's essential to do whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint to help our parks work their harmful emission-reducing magic. We have an interdependent relationship, don't we?

One way to mildly reduce our footprint is to ditch the gym every so often for outdoor activities. Think about the plugged-in machines, the air conditioning, the TV, and the emissions these electronic devices send out into the world. Of course, we aren't trying to guilt you into ditching the gym altogether, just merely encouraging you to swap the machines for a run, a hike, a canoe, a group outdoor workout, or whatever is accessible to you in your neighbourhood every so often.

Side note: If you plan to go to the mountains or a nearby national park for your physical activity, consider the following!

  • Leave-no-trace—pick up your trash, don't leave dog bags on the ground, and pick up after others on your way back.
  • Keep your dog on a leash to protect the habitat in designated on-leash areas—and just because your dog is friendly off a leash doesn't mean other dogs are, so don't be upset or alarmed if an on-leash dog snaps at your off-leash dog.
  • Carpool to the mountains!
  • Don't leave your car idling if you pull over to revel at a view.
  • Take public transportation or look into a shuttle service when possible.

So not only can exercising outside ever-so-slightly reduce your carbon footprint (anything helps, okay?), but your mental health will receive a boost, too! Can you imagine exercising in a fun way that benefits your carbon footprint and elevates your mental health? The outdoors really is magical!

Hiker enjoying the outdoors

Hiker enjoying the outdoors

Boost your mental health

And while you're spending time outside, you may as well get a mental health boost, too, right? Of course, even looking outside can ease stress and anxiety, but immersing below a canopy of trees or along a shimmering lake can diminish cortisol and adrenaline, ultimately reducing stress. And that's not all!

Green space time can open up your mind to refreshing, creative, and focused thoughts. So if you're feeling uninspired, shut that laptop, avoid that glass of wine (for a moment—not forever, okay?), and let the sweet smells of fresh air refresh your brain cells. We go more into depth on how being outside can benefit your mental health here!

These are just some of the ways why the outdoors is the best way to get physically healthy! And why wouldn't you want to revel in some incredible benefits, such as increased mental health, heightened self-esteem, lowered carbon footprint, all while having fun and creating lifelong memories (and super cool photos if you're in the mountains!)?