According to Bharat Bhise, although going to the gym can certainly help you improve your fitness levels, it is also necessary to exercise outdoors to receive a host of other health benefits. Unfortunately, many people don’t like to exercise outdoors in the sun and dirt and prefer to lift weights and participate in exercise classes indoors.
Here are a few benefits of outdoor workouts and dirt:
- It helps improve your immune system – Many people don’t let their kids play in the dirt because dirt is messy, and they believe that playing in the dirt can hurt their health. However, according to researchers, exposure to dirt can improve your immune system. It contains a common harmless and soil-dwelling bacterium known as Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae) that can boost your immune health.
In fact, according to the director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago, Jack Gilbert, kids who grow up playing in dirt and mud tend to have a stronger immune system than kids who don’t.
- It challenges your body in a different manner – People who work out indoors do so in a controlled air-conditioned gym or fitness studio. Although there is nothing wrong with working out indoors, you cannot experience the same level of stress when working outdoors since you have to deal with uncontrollable outside conditions such as the intense heat of the sun or uneven terrain and dirt.
Thus, when you do outdoor workouts, you allow your body to get adapted to outdoor conditions and it is more functional and helpful in your normal daily activities.
- It can boost your mental health – The mental health benefits of following a consistent exercise routine are well documented. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good chemicals known as endorphins that produce a sense of euphoria and boosts your mood. As a result, it helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
However, you can gain more benefits by exercising outside since it allows you to come in direct contact with sunlight which is essential for improving your vitamin D intake. Plus, people who spend more time outside on bright and sunny days produce more levels of serotonin which is a natural mood stabilizer that can help you combat anxiety and depression.
- It is more fun – People who love to exercise also love to spend time in the gym. But spending time in a gym environment can quickly turn irritating when you have to visit the same place every week and meet the same people. In fact, if you don’t like spending time with strangers, going to the gym can be a frustrating experience.
However, when you spend time in nature, you have access to clean air and beautiful scenery which is naturally more fun.
Bharat Bhise suggests you try exercising at an outdoor gym in your area to experience the fun of working out outdoors. If you have kids, you can take them out to a playground to allow them to play in the dirt, mingle with other kids, and simply have fun.