Compare the sterile, big box gyms we are all too familiar with to training outdoors. You sense it intuitively. Having the elements on your skin, being surrounded by nature is good for us.
Roughly three years ago, I moved from Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley to Malibu. While the Valley is surrounded by majestic mountains, it’s made up of a grid of city blocks, apartment buildings, alleys, graffiti, tons of traffic and smog. I’ll always proudly rep the 818 (it’s laughably tattooed on me), but I was thrilled to move 30 miles in the direction of the ocean.
Malibu is heaven for a man that loves the outdoors. It’s not just the cliffs and rocks, sand and water, perfectly mild weather, the ever-changing scenery or the sunsets that would make Hawaii blush. It’s the fact that no matter where you go, folks are riding bikes, running, lifting outside, swimming, surfing, hiking, etc. People are inspired to be outdoors because, well, it feels good.
According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you’re likely to be… And what did researchers find? People who lived within 1 kilometer of a park or a wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the big cities. I have a strong affinity for New York City, and San Francisco inspires the most adventurous part of me. If you live in an urban area, there are ways to attain the health benefits of being outdoors. Do some yoga in Central Park or jog in North Beach close to the water, and you’ll have done your body a solid.
I realized this today – 24 Hour Fitness is like the McDonald’s of workout environments. They are designed to remove variety. You get a clean location at the cost of absolute sterility. Instead, try to find a local gym that allows you to be (or at least gaze) outside. Even better, do yourself a huge, healthy favor and take the majority of your workouts outside. Your soul will be grateful.
Less anxiety and reduced stress sound enticing?
Other studies by researchers in England and Sweden have found that joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage and landscape views, feel more restored, and less anxious, angry and depressed than those runners who burn the same amount of calories in gyms.
My Malibu bias doesn’t blind me to the rest of our stunning country (and world). From snowboarding in Whitefish, Montana to fishing in Florida’s Keys, all kinds of outdoor activities under the electric stars are ours to claim. Get outside and stake yours.