Coach Kelli: Outdoor workouts burn more calories and boost endorphins

Our technologically advanced society has been a catalyst for moving almost every outdoor activity indoors including a variety of sports and even exercise.  More people are using workout videos in a square of their family room and even using video workout games for physical movement.  While there are advantages to indoor options, especially on a severe weather day many people have become starved for time in nature and as it turns out, indoor activities actually can stress us out and burn less calories!

Indoor workouts are limited in comparison to what you can accomplish physically, emotionally and spiritually in the great outdoors.  Outdoor workouts are nature’s Zoloft, without the negative side effects.  In 2007, researchers in England compared a 30 minute walk in the park to 30 minutes on the treadmill.  71% of outdoor walkers felt less stressed while 72% of the treadmill walkers felt more stressed.  In a survey I did with the Argyle Adventure Boot Campers, being outdoors was among the top two answers as what they enjoyed most about boot camp.

According to the University of Essex, outdoor exercise burns up to a fifth more calories because of environmental factors like wind, cold and heat as well as having to adjust to the varied terrain. An uphill bike or hike in the wind or varied terrain takes more effort than a simulated jog on a treadmill. Exercising outdoors requires use of more muscles to stabilize and balance in the environment.  It also incorporates more core muscles.  All of these factors add up to a greater calorie burn and it simply feels great! 

Another bonus of outdoor exercise is exposure to sunlight, an important source of vitamin D which is a natural mood booster. Vitamin D increases bone strength, fights off seasonal affective disorder and improves the body’s immune system.  Finally, it helps protect against cancer.

Exposure to fresh air is another beneficial reason to lace up your running shoes and head out the door. It is always better to breathe fresh air instead of the potentially moldy, allergen filled and sweaty smell of gym air. Indoor air is twice as polluted as outside air. Outdoors you are guaranteed to smell fresh air instead of sweat.

The factor that may seal the deal for some people is the mental benefits of being outside.  There is something about running by a lake, seeing trees sway in the wind or spotting one of nature’s creatures that does the soul good and inspires you to continue.  Nature is a positive mental stimulant as opposed to having a TV blare a negative message in the foreground or to be imposed upon by offensive music. Even a five-minute outdoor walk can re-energize and restore your mental fatigue.

Outdoor exercise is something anyone can do.  Living in a community with a multitude of parks, lakes, and the availability of golf course communities, stadiums and natural preserves, there are no shortage of fantastic places to ride, run, climb, hike, swim, canoe, find an open court or field, set up an obstacle course and even mediate.  There are even organized groups to join a running club, cycling club, or outdoor boot camp program.

If the four walls you have been exercising in are not exciting to you or if you are ready to commit to spending more time in nature getting fit, there is no better time than spring in Texas.  The outdoors offers constantly changing scenery to keep the mind refreshed and positively stimulated. 

Exercising outside doesn’t have to cost you a  dime, however joining an organized group makes it more fun, increases your commitment factor as well as both enjoyment and results.  Besides being starved of nature, we are also short on personal socialization time.  Group outdoor workouts give you more mileage for your workout time by introducing you to like minded neighbors in the community and providing something healthy to do with a friend or spouse.  

More than 60% of gym memberships bought for the New Year have gone unused months ago. The only way exercise burns calories, increases endorphins and gets you needed Vitamin D, is if you actually participate.  Oh, and outdoor exercisers are shown to workout longer than indoor exercisers so that’s one more reason to head out the door for a metabolic and mental boost.

Classes are now forming for the April 16th Argyle Adventure Boot Camp Outdoor Fitness Program. The world is your gym. Use it to look and feel your best.

Kelli Calabrese is a 25 year fitness industry leader and is the coach of Argyle Adventure Boot Camp where Denton County residents have been getting fit for the past 6 years.  Find out why Argyle Adventure Boot Camp was rated the number one place to workout in Denton County 3 years in a row.  Visit, call 817-490-1296, or email [email protected]


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