Get out! The benefits of exercising outdoors.

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By Emma (new GS fitness blogger)


Ok, I must admit that I’m not always the best at taking up the outdoor running challenge. On cold days when it’s pouring down with rain the last thing I feel like doing is heading out for a run in the park. On the contrary, it feels much more inviting to pop into my local cafe for a frothy latte and a good chat. You know the feeling.

More often than not, however, I do pull myself together, get in the car and drive to the gym for a perfunctory workout on the treadmill. Job done, right?

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Well, sort of. What I’ve recently learned is that most of us run faster and for longer if we are out in nature rather than on the treadmill, in front of a screen. And the idea of driving to the gym only to get on a treadmill seems kind of crazy when you can just head out of your front door.

Of course, there is a social aspect of going to the gym. You could meet up with friends, do a class together followed by a coffee after.  It’s good to talk after all. So if working out with a friend is a motivator for you then get a running buddy. But make sure that you are pushing each other on a bit rather than doing the opposite and getting lazy. Your body will thank you for it.

But there are other benefits too. If you’re lucky enough to live close to a park or forest, the colour green is actually calming and will centre you. When I run in Richmond Park in south-west London, I pay attention to the leaves, grass and bushes around me. The fresh air really clears my skin as well as my mind and I am mindful of breathing deeply to make sure I get as much oxygen as possible into my lungs whilst focusing on the present moment.

imageRecently, I stopped running to music and podcasts and started listening to my breathing instead. It becomes almost meditative and it allows you to control your pace and manage tiredness much better. Often you think you are tired (your brain’s talking) but your body can keep on going. Just listen to that breath. Also make sure you are thinking a little bit about your running technique and not pounding those feet on the ground. Run lightly. Take smaller steps and make sure your foot rolls from toe to heel softly. It will be gentler on your joints and make the whole experience more enjoyable.

Get out and let me know how you felt. Was it better? Did you run further? We would love to hear about what makes running more enjoyable to you.

Emma x

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