5 Benefits Of Outdoor Exercise For Your Mental Health
by Kat Rowe | May 9, 2023
Feet in the grass, head in the clouds and heart beating fast. Exercising outdoors reminds us that we’re alive and thriving!
You don’t have to be an avid runner or an athlete to feel the benefits of exercise. Even a short walk can do your mind, body and soul a world of good.
In fact, research shows that people who exercise regularly have better mental health and emotional wellbeing.
No matter where you are in your physical and mental health journey, starting is the hardest part. We’re here to help and encourage you to go at your own pace and work towards achievable goals, so you can have a better today and tomorrow.
Balances the chemicals in our brain
Although exercise can be challenging while you’re doing it, crossing the finish line can be the best feeling in the world.
There’s actually a lot of science behind that instant mood boost after exercise. Our brain releases serotonin, which helps to stabilise our moods, and endorphins, which helps us with pain and stress relief.
When we exercise outside, the benefits keep rolling in! Studies have shown that people who exercise outside report a higher level of vitality and enthusiasm, and lower levels of tension and fatigue.
Our mental health symptoms can impact us physically as well as emotionally. By getting your heart rate up and fresh air in your lungs, you can significantly improve your cardiovascular health and overall physical health – giving you the ability to live a long and full life.
Improves our sleep routine
Exercise is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of sleepless nights and negative emotions.
Outdoor exercise is a form of mindfulness that allows you to calm racing thoughts and focus on positive accomplishments.
Moving your body can also release tension and energy that might otherwise keep you up at night. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for good mental health, and exercise can help you achieve it.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, try establishing a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine and sugar before bedtime, minimising screen time, and creating a relaxing environment in your bedroom.
Creates a sense of achievement
Nothing feels better than setting a goal and achieving it. No matter how big or small, a win is a win.
When you exercise, you’re in control of your body and situation. You’re putting yourself and your health first. You’re building resilience to cope with hard and uncomfortable feelings.
For example, the feeling of cycling up a hill and the sigh of relief when you reach the top closely resembles the highs and lows of life. If you can get to the top of that hill, you can do anything.
To get the most satisfaction and benefit from your workout, experts recommend exercising outside. It’s proven that people who exercise outside say they’re more likely to exercise for longer and more often than those who stay indoors. They also reported higher levels of enthusiasm, pleasure and self esteem.
An opportunity to get social
Exercising for your mental health doesn’t have to be done on your own. From going for a walk with friends to joining a social sporting team, exercising is a fantastic way to increase your social interactions.
Creating a support system around your fitness goals can be extremely beneficial. By joining a sports team or committing to a weekly walk with a friend, you can increase your accountability and motivation. Knowing that someone else is counting on you can give you the push you need to stay committed to your fitness routine.
Exercising outdoors and with other people is a distraction from your negative thoughts and feelings. Social connectedness is proven to lower anxiety levels, boost empathy and allows you to build more trusting and collaborative relationships.
Releases the tension (physically and emotionally)
A common piece of advice for people feeling anxious is to relax your muscles, unclench your jaw and release the tension you’re holding.
Our thoughts can have a big impact on us physically as well as emotionally.
Exercising outside can ground us, be an outlet for an overactive mind and help overcome pent-up emotions and trauma.
Exercise helps to reduce skeletal muscle tension, helping you to relax and reduce the physical symptoms mental health conditions can cause.
To feel the benefits of exercise you don’t need to go for a 10km run, you can simply stretch, do yoga or pilates, walk around the block or dance in your living room.
It’s about getting out of your mind and into your body and the present moment. When you take that movement outdoors, you’re connecting with your natural environment and community, which is a wholesome and beautiful experience.