Singapore’s humidity and summer temperatures all year round often has us hiding from the sun’s rays and running to the nearest air-conditioned spot. Even when exercising, some prefer the comfort of air-conditioned indoor gyms, instead of exerting themselves outdoors.
We can now jog, cycle and even row indoors, with the advancement of sports equipment. However, even if you’re performing similar exercises, are you certain that you’re working out at the same intensity?
When exercising, we tend to focus on what we are training, such as stamina, endurance or specific muscle groups. However, research has demonstrated that the decision to exercise indoors or outdoors can produce varying results and impact the body in different ways – outdoor workouts typically prove to be more beneficial to the mind and body.
Firstly, spending time outdoors with nature has been linked to improved mental health, such as reduction in stress levels, boost in self-esteem levels, and enhanced mental wellbeing, according to a study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.
As the outdoor environment provides more visual stimulation, people typically feel more motivated to workout for a longer period and push themselves harder. Other forms of research have indicated that those who exercised outdoors were more likely to enjoy themselves and repeat the workout compared to those who do so indoors.
Being under the sun also provides you with a free dose of vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones, a healthy immune system and strengthen metabolic function. Additionally, exposure to sunlight can improve sleep quality, immune function and increase endorphin production to lift your spirits.
Exercising outdoors tends to help burn more calories, with different forms of terrain pushing you to work on a range of muscles and tendons, strengthening them to reduce the odds of overuse injuries, which are more common in those who run a treadmill.
Most parks today also offer fitness corners that provide exercise equipment for simple movements such as pull-ups, sit-ups, or tricep dips. Alternatively, you could rent a bicycle or a pair of roller skates, and enjoy the scenery while burning calories.
Let’s not forget that there are a wide variety of activities you can do outdoors, which are not only fun, but can also help to tone your body. Going for a long walk, a hike, kayaking and horseback riding are just a few of the activities you can take part in, whether on your own or along with a group of friends.
Lastly, if you’re still not convinced about exercising outdoors, consider the fact that it costs less than a gym membership! All you need to invest in is good sunscreen that protects your skin, or different forms of exercise clothes to adapt to varying weather conditions. A gym pass for six months would usually cost more than that.