Training outdoors offers WAY more benefits than other workouts

By Genevieve van der Vyver

Who really wants to go from an indoor office to an indoor gym? Does exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike like a trained rat excite you? If you ask me, it’s pretty depressing.

That’s why I love to train the way nature intended… no, not that way, I mean exercising outdoors. There is actual scientific evidence that taking your training outside can be better for you in a number of ways.

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You’ve heard of “earthing”, eh? It’s not something cooked up by hippies, but is in fact researched and proven by the Japanese. We believe everything those guys say, right? I mean, everyone knows the Japanese invented Tabata so clearly those people KNOW what they’re talking about.

So don’t argue and go train outside. You’ll benefit from the trees and grass and bugs and sunlight which all makes you loads happier… That’s right, training outside can help to get you off the Xanax. Google it, it’s the truth.

Burn more calories

Yip. Think about it. Actual terrain! Obviously running on real ground and having to account for obstacles and wind resistance is going to have more impact on your energy expenditure than running on a treadmill in a sanitised environment. It’s the true definition of functional and it’s real life.

Fewer germs

It’s very ‘last season’ to be a germaphobe, but you know that deep down you can’t wait to wash your hands and burn that gym towel after your gym sweat session (and the sweat of all those who repped out before you). I prefer the concept of ‘clean’ dirt. Dirt is cool. Dirt is clean. Flu sucks.

Have fun

Training outside opens up so many new options and possibilities. Your workout will be more varied, creative and enjoyable. A good trainer (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) will be able to use the terrain to challenge you and keep you engaged during your workout. If you have a bad trainer, at least you can enjoy the scenery!


You live in South Africa. You think you get a lot of sun, but do you really, though? If you’re stuck in the office for several hours a day you may actually benefit from a little more natural vitamin D. There’s a reason we all feel happy on the beach – it’s those rays, dude!

Medical News Today tells us that exposure to sunlight can help to prevent or slow cancer progression, prevent diabetes, support the immune system and regulate insulin levels (insulin is that temperamental fat storage hormone).

Getting outdoors and having fun in the sun is ultimately going to help you become a healthier, slimmer individual.

You keep showing up!

Have commitment issues? Find it hard to stick with a programme? Get lazy on the drive home? So there’s this super fancy study that was done by a whole bunch of clever people that demonstrates that people who train outdoors are not only happier, but they also love it sooo much that they find it easier to keep showing up.

That’s right, they can’t give up. It’s like an addiction, but a good one, like that relationship you have with coffee that you’re totally okay with. The benefit is that if you keep showing up and keep training, the consistency eventually yields big rewards.

The keys to achieving anything great in life are:

  1. planning,
  2. action, and
  3. consistency.

A little determination goes a long way too. When you train consistently, you’ll see the changes in both your physique and attitude that you’ve craved your entire life.

In all honesty, none of this is rocket science. Why then do we need doctors to tell us this? You intuitively know that when you get out and about, you feel better. If weight loss is your primary goal, you’ll definitely use more energy and, therefore, burn more fat in the process.

If you’re struggling with depression, you can’t help but feel better when you train in the sunshine and meet new people. Look outside of yourself, take a chance and get out there. If you’re not going to do it for yourself, do it for your dog. Please, just take Skippy for a walk.


Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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