Why outdoor exercise is topping 2021 fitness trends – benefits explained

Feb 24, 2021
Posted in: Fitness   Posted by: Natalie

At Ragdale we’re blessed to be set within 13-acres of rural countryside and we champion exercise in the great outdoors, offering countryside walks, outdoor bootcamps and when the weather permits, yoga and Pilates in the grounds.

We recently caught up with Ragdale Hall Spa fitness expert Dean Hodgkin, to better understand why outdoor exercise is topping the 2021 fitness trends, and how you can benefit.

“The number of people participating in outdoor exercise has grown over more recent years, and no doubt driven by the community feel for Parkrun, the increasing number of outdoor bootcamps and emergent of more professional scale outdoor gym equipment/facilities.

“There’s no doubt the lockdown-forced closure of gyms due to the covid-19 pandemic has driven the increase in popularity of outdoor exercise since most of us have simply had no other choice. However, many of us have realised that shifting workouts outside can give a new edge to our regular training program as outside exercise equals adventure and an adrenaline high. It’s like being a child again, it reminds us of endless hours spent running about playing and exploring. It lets us enjoy our bodies again.

“The good news is there’s science to support the claim that exercising in the fresh air is revitalising and motivating. A comparative study at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, found that exercisers who ran outside and focused on the environment felt less anxious, tired and depressed than indoor runners, who tended to focus more internally. This suggests the emotional experience associated with exercise is strongly influenced by where it’s done. The researchers also found that outdoor runners had significantly higher levels of the feel-good endorphins after exercise than the indoor runners.

“Sports psychologists agree the time-out factor of exercising outside is certainly beneficial. We know exercise makes us feel better wherever we do it, so if we exercise in a pleasant environment with trees, open space and fresh air we’re going to feel even better. Most of us lead urban, indoor lifestyles and getting outside provides a necessary release from this.

“Recently there’s been a real surge of interest in the healing effects of the outdoors, with psychologists looking into how nature can help to relieve depression, anxiety and loneliness. The therapy, roughly defined as the study of the relationship between the human psyche and the natural environment, is known as ecopsychology. Exercising outdoors is one of the main methods being used to reconnect people with nature with therapists taking groups into the countryside to hike, camp and meditate – a movement I can only see growing in future, ensuring outdoor exercise remains near the top of the list of fitness trends for years to come.”

If you would like to inject something new into your exercise routine, why not check out our specialist activity and wellness breaks. If you have an idea for a fitness break you’d like to experience at Ragdale, simply tell us in the comments below!



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