Trade in the gym for the great outdoors

Cubicle. Gym. Couch. Sound familiar?

If you wake up and go from one enclosed space at work to another enclosed space at the gym to a third enclosed space at home, you’re not alone. Some sources suggest North Americans spend 90 percent of our time indoors!

While you probably can’t convince your boss to move the entire company outside and your TV can’t handle the elements, you can make the outdoors your training ground.

Rethink your fitness must-haves

“People think that exercise can only happen under the perfect conditions: in this space, with this machine, at this time,” says New York-based trainer Laura Miranda, DPT, MSPT, CSCS, the creator of PURSUIT, an urban outdoor training program. If your habitat is more concrete jungle than bucolic park, you can still get your sweat on with Mother Nature … even if long runs aren’t your thing.

“If you look at the world the way you look at the gym, there are so many possibilities,” says Miranda. You can crush push-ups in the park, crawl or crab walk up ramps, spider your way up a tree or fence, run up hills or through sand, sprint from stop sign to stop sign and meander across monkey bars. Or you can sign up for an obstacle course races, which offer course distances for all athletic abilities and combines all of it, says Miranda.

“Think of your city as your urban obstacle course, your local park as your resistance training mecca and your town as an opportunity to slog through mud and obstacles—as opposed to the elliptical,” she says.

Double the perks

“Being outside isn’t a task that you check off your to-do list; it’s something you’ll enjoy,” Miranda adds.

What is it, exactly, about exercising outside that makes us feel so much better? It has to do with the combination of exercise and exposure to nature, she says. The physical activity is empowering, while seeing nature relieves stress … and the two together provide a benefit beyond either one alone, she says. One review published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that, compared to exercising indoors, exercising outdoors came with a slew of benefits, like greater feelings of revitalization, decreased anger and increased energy.

And that soothing feeling? It’s pretty addicting. So sticking with your training plan will be a breeze. How’s that for a win-win?