The Great Outdoors

Outdoor exercise provides more benefits than indoor exercise

(RxWiki News) Through a review of existing studies, researchers have concluded that there are more benefits for your mental health from outdoor exercise, as opposed to indoor exercise.

Researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry analyzed data from trials that compared the impact of outdoor exercise initiatives to those conducted indoors. The researchers found that outdoor exercise provided improvements in mental well-being compared to indoor exercise. Exercising in natural environments was linked to increased energy and greater feelings of revitalization, in addition to decreased levels of tension, confusion, anger, and depression.

Study participants also reported that they enjoyed outdoor exercise more, and consequently were more likely to repeat the same outdoor activity.

According to Dr. Jo Thompson-Coon, a research fellow at the NIHR Peninsula Collaboration in Leadership for Applied Health Research and Care, the idea that outdoor exercise provides added health benefits has sparked the interest of many people. The results found in this review add to the evidence in support of the relationship between mental and physical health and outdoor exercise. Thompson-Coon adds that there is a need for more in-depth, focused trials that explore this relationship more.

Our modern lifestyles have led to some rather negative health outcomes, notably obesity and depression. With added support for the benefits of exercising in natural environments, doctors might begin to encourage such exercise as part of their patients' therapies.

The review is published in Environmental Science and Technology.

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Review Date: 
February 7, 2011