Exercise is one of the best ways to maintain proper health along with sleep and diet. For one, daily exercise allows for a stronger heart and healthier lungs. It enables the cardiovascular system to send more oxygen across the entire body with each heartbeat.
As it is good, some may lead a sedentary lifestyle, and their exercise habits may have stayed the same. If you think you’re on a similar path, the good news is that you don’t have to become a fitness expert to start exercising more. You can tailor this activity based on your fitness level.
There are various exercises out there which include running, swimming, walking, jogging, yoga, and gym workouts. One can do these exercises indoors or outdoors, and some like the former more than the latter. Yet, for some, outdoor exercise is more desirable.
If you’re one of those individuals who prefer outdoor exercise, know that it has benefits beyond physical health. The truth is, it can benefit your mental health too. That said, this article will focus on some mental health benefits of outdoor exercises that you will know by reading further.
Curbs Anxiety and Promotes Mindfulness
Though feelings of anxiety are a normal part of life, millions of adults are affected by a debilitating type of anxiety. Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric health issues worldwide. As this condition can be an obstacle to proper mental health, the good news is that outdoor exercises can help.
Outdoor exercises can lower a person’s bodily sensitivity to anxiety. It reduces tension and stress, increases mental and physical energy, and improves well-being by allowing the body to release a chemical called endorphins. Outdoor exercise can also help to generate new neurons in the critical parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. Some studies believe this may play a role in reducing symptoms of anxiety.
With all these benefits of outdoor exercise, you can increase the benefit by trying to add a mindfulness element to it. For instance, be aware of the rhythm of your breath, the wind touching your skin, or the feeling of your feet touching the road. By applying this step, not only will you make your physical condition better, but you might also prevent constant worries from besetting your thoughts.
Overall, before you exercise, you need equipment to assist you. You can check online for equipment supporting outdoor fitness in Australia and New Zealand.
Healthy Outlet for Trauma
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that occurs after an individual experiences a tragic event. Symptoms involve severe anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and unmanageable thoughts about the traumatic incident.
Concerning outdoor exercise, people diagnosed with such a condition may try to avoid such activity. Some reasons for this are:
- People with trauma may think that exercise can trigger hyperarousal symptoms, which is a primary symptom of PTSD. Some signs of hyperarousal are getting more startled, irritability, problems with sleep, and hypervigilance.
- A person with PTSD may be wary of things such as shortness of breath and a faster heart rate which typically happens at exercise. It’s because they may often associate these bodily sensations with anxiety symptoms.
- People with PTSD may often prefer to stay indoors than go outside to have some exercise. It’s because PTSD is tied to higher chances of having depression. When a person is depressed, there can be a lack of motivation to physically get moving.
Still, outdoor exercise is still less intimidating than the other usual interventions for PTSD, such as psychotherapy. People with PTSD are known for being treatment-avoidant, so an activity like outdoor exercise–which they can do with loved ones—is seen as an effective intervention. In a study of 182 adults with PTSD, the final result indicated that those who said they conducted vigorous-intensity exercises had less hyperarousal and numbing/avoidance.
Increases Focus and Motivation
One of the top recommendations for people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is regular outdoor exercise. Outdoor exercise can increase one’s focus and motivation, especially for individuals with ADHD. Moreover, even just one outdoor activity session can boost energy, improve brainpower, and lessen confusion.
In addition, outdoor exercise can act similarly to medicine for ADHD. Outdoor activity may take the place of stimulants for some people with this condition. Yet, for most people with this issue, it’s good as a pair to medications.
If you want to know specific outdoor exercises that are good for people with ADHD, here are them:
- Brisk Walking
- Rock Climbing
- Team Sports such as soccer, rugby, or softball
Exercise has benefits beyond physical health. It can promote mindfulness, decrease anxiety, and provide a healthy outlet for your thoughts and emotions. Reap the mental health benefits of outdoor activities today and decide to be more physically active in the future.