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Why exercising outside can be better for your health

Photo by Joey Gale

With this winter ranked as the fifth warmest in the record books, students are venturing outdoors for exercise.

“At this time in the year people are starting to get bored with their exercise routine as they’ve most likely been indoors all winter,” Johanna Determann, assistant wellness director said. “In addition to getting some fresh air, now is the time to add variety to your routine and soak up some vitamin D, which you get from sunlight.”

Along with soaking in the sun, students are able to exercise outside of the times the two fitness centers on campus are open.

“Overall people need to do what works best with their schedule and what they enjoy doing,” Determann said. “If you like to run but your only opportunity is to go at 6 a.m., then outdoors will be your better option since the Bell Center doesn’t open until 6:30. Students that enjoy playing pickup soccer or flag football but are tired of using the Bell Center gym should consider moving their games outdoors once the weather gets nicer.”

Raquel Rivera, first-year, has participated in soccer, basketball and sand volleyball outdoors.

“The benefits of working outdoors is that I’m fit and it’s a stress reliever [sic],” Rivera said.

Students similar to Rivera will find that recent studies show that overall well-being can stem from exercising outdoors.

“There was a recent study by the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry that claims that people that exercise outdoors see more benefits to mental and physical well-being,” Jana Peterson, wellness director, said. “While I agree it can be a better environment, I believe that exercise in general can improve both mental and physical well-being. If someone doesn’t want to exercise outdoors, they are going to benefit more by exercising indoors rather than doing no exercise at all.”

Students can infer from these studies that the benefits of working out outdoors can beat exercising indoors.

“Exercising outdoors can enhance a mind-body connection,” Peterson said. “It is easy to just drift away while on a stationary bike, but this isn’t possible when biking outdoors, same goes for running on a treadmill versus running outdoors. You also get the benefit grade (incline) changes throughout the activity that just doesn’t happen when exercising indoors [sic].”

Despite these arguments to exercise outdoors, there are cases when Peterson recommends staying within the safety of the fitness centers.

“I recommend moving workouts indoors when we are experiencing inclement weather,” she said. “In these cases it is just not safe to exercise outdoors. Most people stay inside for the obvious storms, however many people exercise outdoors when the temperatures are at a level that is too hot or too cold. Always make your own safety a priority when choosing your mode of exercise.”

Being safe in general is an important factor to consider when debating between exercising indoors or outdoors.

“If you are working out early in the morning or in the evening and it is still dark or will become dark when you are out, you must make sure that you are properly clothed,” Peterson said. “You do not want to wear all dark clothing. Wear white or better yet reflective material. Everyone that is taking their activity outdoors should have some sort of ID on themselves.”

Exercising and staying healthy in general, no matter the environment is still the main goal.

“No matter where you’re exercising you are accomplishing something big — you’re working out! Don’t get too caught up in what is better because both indoor and outdoor activities have tremendous benefits to your overall health.”

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