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Are There Benefits To Outdoor fitness Training?

The country you live in can have a major influence on your training routine - but does it have to? Having lived in numerous countries with a vast array of weather differences did have a bearing on where I trained. In Indonesia and Singapore, I would walk outside and instantly be hit with heavy humidity, which on some days was so strong it had the impact of immediately making you feel lethargic and tired – and I’d only been out of bed for an hour! In Holland and Germany the opposite story, some days were so cold that it felt like the rubber sole on my trainers was going to crack – so unfortunately for me it was a case of training in the gym, air-conditioning was desperately needed in the Asian countries and a degree of heat in the European ones.

However – I have always preferred outdoor training, and now the thought of sitting endlessly on a fixed-weight machine (and I have done this many times in my exercise ‘career’) sends shivers down my spine. As I mentioned in one of my previous Blogs – there is definitely a need for this type of equipment, but as I visit more and more ‘gyms’ in the UK, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain, Canada and the USA – there are much less gym members using them and migrating to functional based equipment and outdoor training than ever before. Nevertheless, my experience in Spain over the last few years shows that the ‘gym’ market here has some way to go to catch up to its European neighbours – and we are in a country where the climate is ideal for outdoor training.

Why should I train outdoors? There are many examples of research that show a clear association between spending time outdoors and an increased positive mood along with a reduction in stress levels. Participants also reported better enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity. The increased oxygen assists in releasing the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin – just think, 8 hours in the office then driving to the gym for another 1 (or 2 if you enjoy training!) in a ‘closed’ environment. 10 hours + indoors without any fresh air or sunshine and brain dead. Been there, done that – it would now drive me insane!

Outdoor training can be more challenging. How often have you ran downhill in the gym on a treadmill? I can probably say never as the majority, if not all gym based treadmills (running machines to the uninitiated), only stay on the ‘flat’ or elevate upwards (though I do admit that running at 10k per hour on a 15% incline is a little challenging!). Whilst you may want to watch your favourite soap opera whilst on the cross-trainer, aren’t you finding it a little boring and easy? Would you get bored if you were outside with blue sky and with changing scenery?

But more importantly, physically challenging yourself rather than watching ‘soapies’ Chelsea, Becky or Ryan discussing which bling bracelet or colour Ferrari to buy next?! And……..not only does outdoor training challenge you, it teaches your body to adapt in different environments. Major companies such as the hugely successful FORCES FITNESS in the UK, understand that the body needs to be challenged and their members take part in outdoor boot-camps, in all weather conditions and on different terrains!

Training outdoors with qualified instructors is definitely more challenging! How often do you push yourself in the gym? Does that little voice on your shoulder say “Go on, do one more rep, you know you want to”, or does it say “Stop now, don’t do another rep, it’ll only hurt you, finish now and go and get that giant sized latte with 350 calories, you deserve it after being stressed out with all of the screaming whilst watching that soap opera”. No chance of this with instructor led outdoor training, no TV, no coffee available, no little voice, just a big voice from your instructor motivating and pushing you to achieve your goals of getting fit, losing weight or strengthening your body.

The wind blowing in your hair (I shave my head, but it’s nice watching my clients hair blowing in the wind just like a L’Oréal advert - the difference being they are covered in sweat and have just burnt off at least 700 calories!), the heat of the sun on your skin and breathing fresh air rather than air manufactured through an air-conditioning unit – can you ‘feel’ the difference?

Of course you can, you feel exactly the same when you take that well-deserved holiday to a sunny country.

So why are you still doing it? The feedback I receive from my members (usually after, rather than during training as they are using all of their lovely outdoor oxygen trying to breathe) is always positive, and this includes the previously avid gym users.

Why not give it a go today? It’ll change the way you think, feel and use your body – you will definitely enjoy it, feel much healthier in the process and be halfway towards that ‘beach-ready body’ - literally.

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