The Benefits of Outdoor Runs (For Raleigh Brier Creek Commons)

By Stepy Kamei

Running is one of the simplest and yet most effective workouts at our disposal. Many of us choose to use a treadmill to get a great cardio workout a few times a week. While there's certainly nothing wrong with indoor running, there is something to be said for the benefits of taking this kind of exercise outside. As long as the weather isn't too extreme, there are a few excellent reasons why you should consider going for runs in the great outdoors, at least every once in a while. 

It Keeps Things Fun

I know firsthand how boring it can be lugging yourself to the same gym and the same treadmill week after week. Sure, you know you're doing it for your health, but it just gets monotonous after a while. Going outside will help engage your mind as well as your body. Choosing different paths to follow every time you go for a run will keep you stimulated and excited to see what's around the next corner. 

You'll Get a Harder Workout

Most exercise machines offer the ability to increase inclines or resistance levels for a harder workout. However, nothing beats the natural terrain that can be found outside of the gym. You can experiment with different textures (sand, grass, pavement, gravel) and levels (hills and valleys). This will tone many different muscles in your body, as opposed to the same ones every time. 

You'll Soak Up Lots of Vitamin D

Exposure to sunlight is one of the best ways to get Vitamin D -- it's known as the sunshine vitamin for this reason. Vitamin D is crucial for sustaining and improving energy levels, and it acts as a natural mood booster. 

You'll Benefit Your Mental Health

Study after study has shown the many positive effects spending time outdoors can have on a person's mental health. Exposure to sunlight, plants, and fresh air can decrease the likelihood of developing conditions such as depression and anxiety. Combine this with the act of exercising outside, and your overall health and wellness is more than likely going to benefit greatly. 

Start going for runs outside at least once a week to see how it can improve your physical and mental health. As you notice the perks this healthy habit can provide to you, you may just start making it a routine, if not daily, habit. If running is too difficult, you can get many of the same positive effects from a walk as well.

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