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Open gym vs indoor gym: Which is better for your health?

Contributed by: Rachna Arya

There is no debating the health benefits of exercise. It has long been recognised that getting regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing several diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or cancer and also helps to improve mood, reduce stress, improve sleep, and more. 

However, when it comes to exercising, there is an ongoing debate in the fitness world about where is best for exercising. Is indoor exercise better than outdoor exercise activities? Does hitting the gym give you more benefits than going outside to run, walk or jog? 

Most research shows that outdoor exercising in nature is a better deal and has some other appealing advantages. Here are a few reasons why: 

Exercising Outside Comes with many Perks for the Body and Mind

Outdoor fitness can be as simple as a brisk walk around the block. Whichever way you choose to be active outdoors—walking, running, swimming, biking, or other outdoor sports— there are numerous benefits:

Enhanced mental wellbeing

Compared with indoor exercise, a study suggests that exercising in natural environments resulted in greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, as well as more energy.

People in the study who exercised outside experienced an overall positive effect on vitality, sense of enthusiasm, and aliveness, and wanted to do it again.  

Natural antidepressant

Experts say that outdoor exercise can help ward off depressive symptoms and anxiety. This is because sunshine naturally increases serotonin, a hormone that affects your mood. And exercise itself pumps up the production of endorphins, another feel-good hormone that helps relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.

Research suggests that exercising outside reduces stress and mental fatigue because it lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

A free daily dose of Vitamin D 

A high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency has been documented among people who work indoors and perform low physical activity. Working out amidst nature is better than exercising in the gym because it is an effective way to get your Vitamin D, which is essential to strong bones and a healthy immune system.

Exposing your skin to sunlight is especially important if you are overweight, as studies show that people who are overweight are more likely to be vitamin D deficient.

It challenges your body

Taking your workout outdoors on ever-changing outdoor terrain challenges the body more than when you are working out on a flat indoor surface. Because there are no machines to guide your movement, outdoor workout exercising requires more energy, forcing our bodies to get better workouts and burn added calories and fat.

Research also shows that it helps in a wider range of motion, increasing flexibility and mobility. 

Improves Quality of Sleep

Outdoor gyms are more beneficial in improving sleep quality because they provide fresh air, adequate sunlight, and a good dose of physical activity. It helps alleviate sleeping troubles and cures insomnia, allowing you to fall asleep faster and sleep for longer periods of time.

Closeness to NatureOutdoor workouts helps to connect with nature and address the additional physiological health benefits that occur when exercise is performed in an outdoor environment.

In one study, researchers found that exercising in the natural environment may not only be more enjoyable but may also inspire greater commitment to exercise. When participants are allowed to choose their own walking speed, they tend to walk faster outside than indoors.

Surprisingly, even after working harder, they report a lower level of perceived exertion.

While gyms have their benefits, the takeaway seems to be that moving outside to exercise is more beneficial. It does cost anything and gives you variety, sunshine and stress relief, thereby helping you feel great.

One of the best decisions you can make for yourself is getting on your two feet, breathing in the fresh air, losing your thoughts in the world around you, taking a much-needed break from the mechanical world, and most importantly, feeling a sense of freedom. 

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