We constantly remind you on the blog that getting outdoors is fantastic for the mind and body. It’s an excellent way to elevate your mood and your health. Whenever the weather is good, we encourage you to exercise outside!
New research has found that exercising outside is better for you. It improves thinking and motivation levels. A small study on the neurological effects of outdoor exercise found that a short walk outdoors improved memory and concentration significantly more than the same indoor walk.
Katherine Boere, a neuroscience doctoral candidate at the Univ. of Victoria, frequently had “walking meetings” with her colleagues. They all knew that movement was energizing and wanted to reap the benefits. Past research showed that walking for 30 minutes, outside or in, increased blood flow and aided cognition. But her meetings only lasted 15 minutes, and they felt great.
In her study, she gathered 30 subjects. Her team tested their working memory and focus. Then they would have them walk on alternate days inside for 15 minutes or on a leafy, green path. The outdoor walkers concentrated better and responded faster than those who had stayed inside.
The researchers cited the fact that nature provides “soft fascination.” When you walk outside, you pay attention to your surroundings, but your mind wanders. That aids relaxation, lowers stress and helps recalibrate the brain.
A related study found that more isn’t always better. People felt best at the 15-minute marker. Walking or jogging for 15 minutes was fantastic. But when the activity lasted more than 40 minutes or was too strenuous, it became less beneficial. They also found that running for four miles helped women feel calm, but nine miles didn’t aid stress levels.
Both of these studies focused on green spaces. The study didn’t simply have people walk outside; they were in a natural setting. Possibly the same results aren’t attainable by walking down a city street. Individuals might need to head to parks to gain the health impacts of walking outside. However, even cities have local parks, so it’s not an unreachable goal.
With these studies in mind, it’s time to leave your home or gym and head to the park! We understand that there is weather when it’s just not achievable. It can be too cold in the winter, and it can get too hot in midsummer. But, while the weather is gorgeous, get out there and get all the health benefits of exercising outdoors!