Updated: Nov 30, 2021
by Cherry Chen and Sneha Kuruvilla
Although many states have issued shelter-in-place warnings and it may seem like stepping outdoors means risk, studies show that it is actually healthy and acceptable to still go outdoors. In fact, you should spend at least 20-30 minutes outside per day. Below are some reasons why you should exercise outdoors during Covid-19. This is especially beneficial for those in early recovery. At a time when you’re rebuilding your life, this is an opportunity to strengthen your body, mind and soul.
Social Distancing is Safer Outside
If you’re bored at home, try finding trails or parks where chances of social distancing are higher and risks of infection are lower. Walking in nature is preferable to staying in indoor malls or restaurants that tend to be in more confined places, since there is less risk of coronavirus traveling and infecting outdoors. Moreover, natural elements such as UV and wind tend to deteriorate and dilute the virus.
Strengthen Immune System
Outdoor exercise is a great way to boost your immunity. Sunlight is beneficial for producing Vitamin D in your body which helps in developing a strong immune system. Regular exercise is also known to enhance the body’s production of T-cells which is a kind of white blood cell and helps in destroying infected host cells. Furthermore, when you are outside and breathe in a chemical called phytoncide, typically produced by plants, it helps your body increase the number of white blood cells and combat diseases and infections.
Burn More Calories Outside
Good news for outdoor runners - you are likely to burn almost 3 to 7 more calories by running outside rather than inside. Running up and down hills, resisting wind and even hopping onto curbs urge your body to put in more effort. However, if you are still adamant about running on a treadmill, you should set it to at least a 1% incline. Another factor is that you end up running for a longer time outside due to the scenery and relaxation that it provides thus resulting in more calories burnt.
Build More Muscle
Running outdoors has also been found to help build more muscle than running on your treadmill. This is because the treadmill regulates foot movement automatically whereas when you’re running outside you will have to take more control over your body. Moreover, it helps to reduce the risk of injury since running outside facilitates better bone growth.
Improve Mental Health
Covid-19 has affected our mental health by instilling fears such as losing our jobs or falling ill, resulting in increased reports of anxiety and depression. Spending time outside can mitigate this since it contributes positively to overall mental health.
Research shows that people are more likely to feel healthy both psychologically and physically if they spend at least two hours a week outside. Moreover, exercising outdoors decreases your body’s level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, reduces symptoms of depression, and enhances your mood and overall well-being.
We’re going through a difficult time and it’s important to take care of ourselves during this crisis. Make sure you spend at least 20 minutes outside everyday while following the safety protocols and see the difference in your physical and mental health for yourselves! So step outside, get moving, practice social distancing, and you will be the strongest possible version of yourself in the face of COVID-19.
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