Health: Benefits of outdoor exercise explained

Exercising in the fresh air has lots of benefits.
Exercising in the fresh air has lots of benefits.
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A rising number of adults are choosing to shun expensive gym memberships and make the most of their own outdoor space, according to a new survey.

Garden and conservatory furniture retailer, Alfresia.co.uk, found that 60 per cent of British adults would prefer to exercise outdoors rather than in a gym or sports hall.

Women aged 18-30 are most likely to choose the garden as their work out space, with 67 per cent claiming to do so at least once a month.

The rise in outdoor boot camp-style regimes and high intensity interval training, which requires only short bursts of activity, is fuelling this trend, as well as the increasing popularity in body weight and resistance training which often requires little or no gym equipment.

Many of the women who chose the garden as their preferred exercise space said they sometimes feel intimidated in gym environments.

And the research found that more than 30 per cent of those who don’t have an outdoor space at their homes would often choose to join an outdoor boot camp or running club.

The number of boot camps, in particular seem to be on the increase and obstacle course challenges like Tough Mudder are proving popular across all age ranges.

Personal trainer Oral Blackford runs Fitness Success Obstacle Gym, on Wakefield Road, Rothwell which incorporates obstacle trails, mud runs, monkey bars, tunnels, walls and rope climbs. He said: “We want to get the fun back into fitness. Training doesn’t have to be in a gym, plodding along on a treadmill. In order to work, training has to engage.

Studies have shown that exercising outdoors has measurable benefits over exercising inside. The online journal Extreme Physiology and Medicine reviewed all available literature and found that when people are allowed to walk at their own pace they tend to walk faster when outdoors compared to indoors.

Interestingly they also report feeling less exertion which means that by exercising outside you can actually perform better.

Outdoor exercise is also proven to improve mood and self-esteem - even after just a few minutes.

One way of improving your health and helping the environment at the same time is to work up a sweat digging, planting, lopping and path-clearing at one of 95 free Green Gyms around the country, run by The Conservation Volunteers.

Experienced leaders guide volunteers through a range of practical projects, giving you the opportunity to tackle physical jobs in the outdoors. This can improve your strength and stamina, and boost your practical skills and confidence, no matter what your age or level of fitness.


Allow more time for your journey and try to walk everywhere you can.

Cycle to work. If you haven’t got a bike you may be able to join your company’s cycle to work scheme .

Trim trails are made up of simple pieces of exercise equipment dotted around trails or in parks.

Invest in a skipping rope and rediscover this simple pastime- you’ll be amazed at how many calories you burn

Take the kids into the park and play football or tennis, or just run around with the dog.