Step Ahead Wellness Center Blog

EXERCISE OUTDOORS THIS SUMMER... WITH STEP AHEAD!

Posted by deborah neiman on Tue, Jun 10, 2014 @ 06:53 AM

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Our fitness director/certified fitness trainer, Noelle Lusardi, has created a 12 week summer program to get you outside!  Join our Power Walk/Yoga Stretch In The Park classes every Wednesday night from 7 to 8pm, now through August 27th.  Email Noelle directly at Noelle@stepaheadwellnesscenter.com for more information.

 

Enjoy the benefits of outdoor exercise as discussed in the New York Times article below.

 

From The New York Time: The
Benefits of Exercising Outdoors

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

February 21,
2013 12:01 am

While the
allure of the gym — climate-controlled, convenient and predictable — is
obvious, especially in winter, emerging science suggests there are benefits to
exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent
bicycle or a track.

You stride
differently when running outdoors, for one thing. Generally, studies find,
people flex their ankles more when they run outside. They also, at least
occasionally, run downhill, a movement that isn’t easily done on a treadmill
and that stresses muscles differently than running on flat or uphill terrain.
Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version. In
studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of
running outside, treadmill
runners expended less energy
to cover the same distance as those striding
across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind
resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.

The same dynamic has been shown
to apply to cycling
, where wind drag can result in much greater energy
demands during 25 miles of outdoor cycling than the same distance on a
stationary bike. That means if you have limited time and want to burn as many
calories as possible, you should hit the road instead of the gym.

But
there seem to be other, more ineffable advantages to getting outside to work
out. In a number of
recent studies,
volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same
time or distance — one inside, usually on a treadmill or around a track, the
other outdoors. In virtually all of the studies, the volunteers reported
enjoying the outside activity more and, on subsequent psychological tests,
scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and
self-esteem and lower on tension, depression and fatigue after they walked
outside.

Of course,
those studies were small-scale, short-term — only two walks — and squishy in
their scientific parameters, relying heavily on subjective responses. But a study last year of older
adults
found, objectively, that those who exercised outside exercised
longer and more often than those working out indoors. Specifically, the
researchers asked men and women 66 or older about their exercise habits and
then fitted them all with electronic gadgets that measured their activity
levels for a week. The gadgets and the survey showed that the volunteers who
exercised outside, usually by walking, were significantly more physically
active than those who exercised indoors, completing, on average, about 30
minutes more exercise each week than those who walked or otheStudies haven’t
yet established why, physiologically, exercising outside might improve
dispositions or inspire greater commitment to an exercise program. A few small studies have found
that people have lower blood levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress,
after exerting themselves outside as compared with inside. There’s speculation,
too, that exposure to direct sunlight, known to affect mood, plays a role.

But the
take-away seems to be that moving their routines outside could help reluctant
or inconsistent exercisers. “If outdoor activity encourages more activity, then
it is a good thing,” says Jacqueline Kerr, a professor at the University of
California, San Diego, who led the study of older adults. After all, “despite
the fitness industry boom,” she continues, “we are not seeing changes in
national physical activity levels, so gyms are not the answer.”

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