The physical and mental health benefits of exercising outside

Kennedy Wynn, athletic training graduate student, likes to walk, run, swim and do outdoor yoga, which all help her get a good sweat in.

Wynn likes to exercise outside because the warmth of the sun on her skin makes her feel good, and as an athletic training student, she spends a lot of time outside anyway.

If she has the time to exercise, she prefers to do it outside, Wynn said.

With spring in full swing and summer not far behind, swimming, biking, yoga and hiking are just some of the outside exercises students can do for health, fun or to just get out of the house, according to the American Fitness Professionals Association website.

If students are trying to get active, a walk, jog or speed-walking is always a great option, as well as swimming if they’re trying to improve their cardio, Wynn said.

Outside exercise can also help with heart rate, vitamin D intake and athletic performance, and for students participating in sports it's better to practice in the environment they would be competing in, she said.

Larry Nelson, associate professor of kinesiology, said in an email that instead of walking around the block or taking a jog at the park, he would encourage people to actively learn something new.

Disc golf, rollerblading, biking off-road or joining a club or co-ed sports team can all develop mental and physical skills on a regular basis, he said.

There are also mental health benefits to spending time in natural settings instead of inside with artificial lighting, Nelson said.

Cameron Shannon, athletic training graduate student, enjoys exercising outside in the fall or spring. She prefers to run in the morning when it's not humid or hot, she said.

Swimming is also a good option, Shannon said. Although she swims for fun rather than exercise, she thinks it’s one of the best exercises people can do.

Outside exercises depend on the person's preference, what they can handle and what they like to do. Cardiovascular-wise, endurance and strength training exercises are best for people who have joint issues, she said.

“Exercising in general is amazing for your body, your mind, your stress relief,” Shannon said.


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