Of course, one of the main benefits of exercising outdoors is, well, the fact that you’re outdoors. “It’s this idea of embracing natural, outdoor movement versus this fabricated, inside-the-box exercise session,” says Greenfield. Aside from the benefits of being outside in nature (which you can read all about here), Greenfield explains that working out outside is an “unpredictable” experience. “There are all sorts of things that happen outdoors that are unpredictable and are more stimulating to the mind,” he notes.
For example, you have to keep tabs on your surrounding environment while you run so you don’t trip over a rock, tree, person, etc. Whereas if you’re running on a treadmill, it’s easier to mentally check out. Similarly, lifting weights or participating in a HIIT session outside in the cold adds a layer of healthy discomfort that your body and mind must overcome. Greenfield would argue that this mental stimulation is just as important when strengthening your body—when you have to focus on the cold weather, it forces you to get out of your head in a way that promotes a degree of mental, physical fitness. That’s why, Greenfield says, “we can actually keep our battery more charged by working out outdoors.”