Gyms are AMAZING.
Gyms are AWESOME.
The gym is a temple and we are all its sweaty and devoted acolytes BUT you only have to look at membership fees to realise that not all gyms are made equally.
Some are fancy-as-balls; they’ve got tennis courts, spas and scented moisturiser in the bathrooms. Others have iron bars on the windows. Maybe yours doesn’t even have any windows. We hit the gym because it’s convenient and all the equipment is in one place and because we’re paying good money to use it. Maintaining a healthy gym habit can be vital to individual fitness management but, as with anything done regularly, it can quickly start to feel monotonous. Changing gyms regularly isn’t practical and it’s hardly affordable, so when you’re ready to get out from under those striplights and ceiling tiles, get out into the fresh air and exercise outdoors.
Green exercise sounds a little new age, but it’s a really simple and sensible concept that can be applied to any sport. Green exercise is any physical activity that takes place outside in nature. This might be trail running, hiking, mountain biking or open water swimming, but it can also mean jogging in the park, completing resistance or cardio training in the open air or popping your yoga mat down on the sand.
Green exercise taps into the idea that we’re all outdoor creatures. For thousands of generations, humans have worked and lived in the outdoors, and it’s only within the last couple of centuries that we’ve started spending more and more time inside. But our bodies are best adapted to being outside. It’s where they’re used to being, and the health benefits have been confirmed in numerous scientific studies. With the warm weather now approaching (fingers crossed), we thought we’d share a few reasons why it’s worth sticking your head out of the gym and into the fresh air.
Your Body Will React to New Terrain
The gym is a static environment. The treadmill or bike can’t throw curveballs like the outside world can. Wind resistance, precipitation, temperature, humidity, hard and soft surfaces, sudden inclines or declines, are all things that can’t be replicated in the gym.
And there’s no jumping over a squirrel or a cat when you’re inside.
Outdoor environments create variations each time you go out which help make you a better athlete. Your body is forced to adapt. You’ll use different muscles which can help prevent injury as you’re no longer pounding the same ones time and time again. Simply put, you’ll probably find it’s a fuller workout when you’re outside.
Research suggests that the calorie burn is higher, too. Men’s Health reported on two studies that concluded in favour of outdoor exercise: the first suggested you can lose up to 10% more calories outdoors whilst the second found that men who exercised out in the fresh air lost half-a-stone in weight more than those who stayed fit inside.
Check the Air Quality of your Gym
Researchers in Portugal and The Netherlands measured the air quality of 11 gyms using monitors that checked for carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and ozone. They checked for dust and other chemicals released by the carpets, cleaning agents, furniture and paint, too. They were even checking for formaldehyde. What they found was shocking: air quality in all the gyms fell far below basic standards.
Do It for the (Vitamin) D
The only thing that lighting in a gym will give you is a headache. The outside, however, has vitamin D: the sunshine vitamin. Our body needs vitamin D to help us maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscle, and whilst you’ll find it in a number of different foods, the only real way to get enough of it is by natural sunlight or supplements. The problem in the UK, however, is that most of us aren't getting enough of it in the winter. The Government advise taking supplements during the colder months.
Whilst the body can store vitamin D, it can’t store enough to keep us topped up throughout the winter BUT in the summer by exercising outdoors we can get the maximum benefit of this amazing vitamin. You won’t get enough in the gym at any time of the year, even if you’re working out next to a window.
Good gym hygiene should be a priority for both gym owners and gym users. Let’s face it, it’s a veritable sweatbox, and there’ll always be the risk of infection inside our favourite fitness spaces. One of the biggest risks to your health comes from the potentially deadly (and antibiotic-resistant) MRSA. One study found that some pieces of equipment had more germs on it than a toilet seat with 70% of those germs known to be harmful to humans.
Working outside will cut the risk of catching certain nasties but it can also be a boost to your immune system. Published in The Journal of Immunopathology, one study showed how inhaling small amounts of airborne plant chemicals improved immune response by 50%.
If you’re finding that you’re getting sick a lot, then exercising outdoors could be what the doctor ordered.
Good for Mental Health
Exercise is often linked to a positive impact on mental health. When we exercise outside, it can have an even greater benefit. Alive.com writes how exposure to natural sunlight combined with physical activity can increase the serotonin levels in our bodies helping us to boost our feelings of well-being and happiness. When we feel good, we’re more likely to work out harder and by exercising outside you might just find yourself exceeding your usual workout.
And don't forget that for every pair of EarHugz purchased, £1 is donated to the Mental Health Foundation.
We’re not bashing the gym. We LOVE the gym, but it can be all too easy to get stuck in the same routine, on the same machines at the same times week-after-week. Getting your fitness fix outdoors is a great way to complement your gym schedule even if you know that it can’t ever replace it.
Whether you work out indoors or outdoors, remember that sweat will ruin your headphones, so it’s important to protect your sound from exercise-induced moisture damage with EarHugz. EarHugz are machine washable, sweat resistant and fully-reversible in a great range of designs, and they’re way cheaper than buying a replacement pair of Beats or Bose, Sony or Sennheisers.