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The Five Most Compelling Reasons to Use the Earth as Your Gym

Posted Sep 03 2013 11:33am

A lot of people swear by the treadmill, saying it’s a weatherproof way to guarantee you’ve got a workout option. Gym and fitness facilities offer a variety of equipment along with personal trainers and the chance to share space with others that may help you step up your game. But what about the expansive natural gym that stretches out before you just beyond your front door?

A daily dose of physical activity will do your body good whether you’re jogging down the street or using an indoor elliptical machine. But there’s a growing body of research that suggests that taking your exercise routine outside might provide even more health benefits than we thought.

Scientists at Glasgow University recently conducted a study of over 2,000 active participants and concluded that “outdoor physical activity had a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym.”   That’s a big impact! Consider these important reasons to hang up the gym membership and get back outside:

Woman with backpack looking at map

    Using the natural environment as your gym means no equipment needed! Slap on your running shoes and head for the hills! Find ways to use what’s around you to ramp up your workout: do pull ups on a tree branch or find a rock to use for step ups. Taking your workout outside will result in the least amount of environmental impact: the only energy used is your own, used naturally,  and there are no special purchases that impact the Earth’s natural resources. Exercising outside will help increase your chances of  getting enough Vitamin D! Studies show that as a society, our vitamin D levels have plummeted to near epidemic deficiencies – a statistic that can be improved by spending 20 minutes soaking up the sun during a morning walk. Research indicates that outdoor exercise is associated with greater decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression when compared to indoor activity. A 2010 study found that “even just five minutes of exercise in a green space can improve mood and self-esteem.” Using nature’s playground as your gym encourages a back to the basics, reconnect with nature mindset; in the age of modern technology, where we spend as little as 5% of our time outside, we are suffering from ‘Nature Deficit Disorder.’


Think about ways you can boost your outdoor workout activity just in your day-to-day activities: walk up hills or outer staircases instead of taking an elevator, bike to work or park in a neighborhood that’s farther away and walk an extra ten minutes into the office.

Begin to think of your regular household activities as a form of exercise: weeding the flower beds, tending the garden and walking your dog can all contribute to your daily fitness regimen. Consider taking a walk around your neighborhood just to find other opportunities like a community garden or a local park that has jungle gyms and other fun equipment.

Start getting creative! Encourage your family to choose a vacation that is active and requires natural energy – swimming, canoeing, hiking, and biking, just to name a few. The most important part is to see how much nature has to offer when it comes to getting the most out of your workouts, both physically and mentally!


It’s time to get at the seed, the core, the root, of what you really are – an exquisite wild creature who thrives and comes alive when you’re outside! Join Us for our FREE interview series Back to the Wild Summit where you’ll hear from some of the most inspiring re-wilders, nature philosophers, authors and leading health and sustainability revolutionaries.


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