Variety is the spice of life. Regular exercise is the key to staying healthy and happy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get stuck in a rut from time to time! Diversifying your workout environment is a great way to keep things interesting, which really helps with motivation.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of both indoor and outdoor exercise so you can plan your regimen more effectively. Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with incorporating indoor and outdoor environments into your fitness routine. In fact, we recommend it!
With that in mind, let’s get started by weighing the pros and cons of outdoor exercise, and then we’ll follow up with the ups and downs of working out inside.
- Pro: Outdoor environments demand a different workout style
According to The New York Times, studies suggest that an outdoor environment naturally forces your body to work harder. Varying landscapes, wind resistance, and other obstacles make your body adapt to your surroundings, keeping you—quite literally—on your toes.
- Con: You’re not as comfortable
Now, this con can easily be a pro, depending on your approach. When you’re outside, you don’t always have the luxury to take a break, grab a bite to eat, or stop exercising entirely. If you’re going outside for an exercise session, you need to be prepared.
- Pro: Outdoor exercise doesn’t have to be just exercise
Unlike running on a treadmill, outdoor exercises can take many shapes and forms, including hobbies. For example, rock climbing, swimming, playing sports, and bicycling are all enjoyable activities that really get your blood pumping.
- Con: Your options can be limited
On the other side of the coin, it’s not always feasible to go spend the day rock climbing or kayaking. Sometimes the only realistic outdoor workout is going for a jog. If you really want to work specific muscles, your outdoor options can be limiting.
- Pro: going outside is good for you
According to Health.com, just the act of going outside in nature is good for your mental and physical health. Benefits include a boosted mood, improved immune system, and better focus.
Okay, let’s focus on indoors now.
- Pro: The possibilities are virtually endless
If you really want to cater to all aspects of your body, going to a fitness center is crucial. Not only do you have access to many different types of equipment, but you can take classes and learn valuable skills. For example, Krav Maga Worldwide teaches self-defense while also giving members a serious workout.
- Con: You may have to wait in line
This is another con that can also be a pro, depending on your perspective. Exercising indoors often means waiting for your favorite machine, and crowds can cause you to lose focus. At the same time, having gym buddies can be a powerful motivator, notes WebMD, and having people to cheer you on and socialize with can make exercising more fun. We’ll call this one a draw.
- Pro: You have amenities to make your experience more pleasant
Sometimes you just don’t feel like roughing it. Sometimes you want to work out in an air-conditioned environment while watching your favorite TV show. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t get too comfortable or you might lose motivation entirely!
- Con: Weather can’t stop you
If you have a consistent workout regimen, weather surprises can put a damper on things. However, if you’re working out at home or at the gym, there’s nothing standing in your way. It’s easy to take the day off even if you have a minor excuse, and working out indoors ensures that you stay accountable.
- Pro: Tracking your progress tends to be easier indoors
While there are devices you can bring with you while you exercise outside, it’s usually far more convenient to track your progress inside.
Mix It Up!
Our advice: don’t limit yourself to one workout environment. Incorporate exercise into your life naturally – jogging to the store, going for a bike ride, and pursuing other outdoor hobbies – but make it a point to visit your local fitness center on a regular basis too. You’ll find that the balance is better for your body and for your mind.
If you’re having trouble getting started, remember a simple motto: chip away! You don’t need to be able to bench press your bodyweight tomorrow — you simply need to start with a few reps of some lighter dumbbells. Don’t try to run a marathon next week — go for a walk after work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and eventually, work up to a jog on Saturday.
If you keep chipping away at your fitness goals — keeping in mind that you only need to do a little bit every day, and that every little bit counts — you’ll find yourself gradually getting in better shape, and changing your behavior, mental attitude, and overall health along the way.
Rene Daniel is a freelance blogger based who has been writing about fitness and nutrition for nearly 10 years. When not writing, Rene can be found practicing punches at Krav Maga Worldwide.