Neighborhood NewsLifestyle & Wellness

Harnessing the Power of Spring: Exercising Outdoors 

West End Healthline

By Alexander Wooner, MD 

As the seasons shift and the chill of winter gives way to the warmth of spring, there’s a sense of renewal in the air. With the sun shining bright and nature coming back to life, what better time to get back to that exercise routine, or to continue your current one, by taking it outdoors. Embracing exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and outdoor workouts not only offer a refreshing change of scenery, but also bring health benefits for both the body and mind. 

A sedentary lifestyle is known to be associated with poor health outcomes across the board. This includes increasing risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and cancers which can lead to shortened lifespans. However, engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity daily including walking, bicycling, water aerobics, sports or even gardening can offer significant physical benefits if done consistently. These activities done daily can have similar effects on health compared to 20-30 minutes of high-intensity exercise 3 times per week. Benefits have even been shown by splitting up an exercise routine into 10–15-minute intervals throughout the day.  

Now, it is tough to maintain a structured exercise routine and to keep the body moving every day, but some things that can help make this commitment easier include finding a partner, joining a group program around town or in your neighborhood, using one of the many fitness apps available or joining a gym/working with a fitness professional if you are able. Getting outdoors can be one way to start this fitness habit and comes with its motivations and benefits, too. 

Let’s briefly explore these benefits and how the changing of the seasons can ignite a positive change within you too. 

1. Nature’s Vitamin D Infusion

Sunlight is our body’s primary source of vitamin D, a vital nutrient essential for bone health, immune function and mood regulation. After months of limited sunlight exposure during the winter, stepping outside to exercise allows your skin to soak up those much-needed rays. Basking in the sun while engaging in physical activity can help replenish your vitamin D levels and lift your spirits, contributing to a sense of vitality and well-being. 

2. Mental Revitalization 

Whether you’re jogging along a scenic trail, cycling through the countryside or practicing yoga in a tranquil park, being outdoors is a refreshing escape. Outdoor exercise provides an opportunity to clear your mind, reduce stress and enhance mental clarity, leading to relaxation and rejuvenation. 

3. Social Connection 

Exercising outdoors provides an excellent opportunity to connect with others and build a sense of community. Whether you join a local running group, participate in outdoor fitness classes or simply go for a walk with friends or family, outdoor workouts offer a chance to bond over shared experiences and mutual support.  

Some things to keep in mind when spending more time outdoors include staying hydrated, protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen and listening to your body and adjusting your workout intensity or duration as needed to prevent injury. 

As the days grow longer and the temperatures rise, seize the opportunity to embrace outdoor exercise and harness the rejuvenating power of spring. Whether you’re soaking up the sunshine, exploring new trails or simply enjoying the beauty of nature, outdoor workouts offer a holistic approach to health and wellness that nourishes both body and soul. With the changing season look towards making a change for yourself by getting outside and starting your own exercise journey today. 

Dr. Wooner is a family physician at Allina Health United Family Physicians, 233 Grand Ave, St. Paul, MN 55102, 651-241-5200 

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