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What is Green Exercise? (Exploring the Benefits of Outdoor Exercise)

April 15, 2024, | Courtesy of

In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, incorporating exercise into our daily routines can be challenging. When we find the time, many of us turn indoors to gyms, treadmills, stationary bikes, and studio classes.

However, a growing body of research suggests that exercising outdoors, often called green exercise, offers greater physical and mental health benefits than exercising inside alone. From reducing stress levels and blood pressure to regulating blood sugar and improving overall well-being, green exercise provides a refreshing alternative to indoor workouts – and an instant mood boost.

Orlin and Cohen’s physical therapists explain what green exercise is, highlighting its benefits with practical tips to help you get started.

Understanding Green Exercise

What is green exercise?

Green exercise is any physical activity or workout that takes place outside. It can be at a local park, the beach, in the woods, and even in your backyard – as long as it’s outdoors in natural surroundings. Common examples of green exercise include:

  • Running

  • Cycling

  • Gardening

  • Walking (briskly or leisurely)

  • Yoga

  • Sports like baseball, football, basketball, and frisbee

Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Improved mood and mental health

Spending time outdoors has a profound impact on our mental health. Research shows that green exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. Exposure to natural surroundings, sunlight, and fresh air promotes relaxation, boosts mood, and enhances cognitive function, allowing you to feel more energized and focused throughout the day.

Improves physical fitness

Engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, or running in different landscapes adds a new dimension to your workout routine. The varied terrain and environmental factors like wind resistance or uphill climbs can offer unique training opportunities, leading to improved cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and endurance.

Connect with nature

Green exercise offers a valuable opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. It allows us to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of our surroundings, fostering a sense of awe and gratitude. Developing a deeper connection with nature can inspire us to become better stewards of the environment, leading to more sustainable lifestyle choices, which can improve our lives and the lives of others.

Getting Started with Green Exercise

Identify nearby natural spaces

Start by researching local parks, nature trails, or open green spaces. Check if they offer amenities such as walking or cycling paths, fitness stations, or outdoor exercise classes. Identify locations that align with your interests and fitness goals.

Choose activities that suit you

Consider activities that resonate with your interests and fitness level. Options may include walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, yoga, or gardening. Selecting activities you enjoy increases the likelihood of sustaining a green exercise routine in the long run.

Plan and schedule

Treat green exercise like any other appointment. Block out specific time slots in your schedule dedicated to outdoor activities. By setting aside designated time, you prioritize your well-being and ensure consistency in your green exercise routine.

Be aware, stay safe.

It’s always wise to research the location ahead of time so you know about potential hazards and weather conditions. Wear appropriate clothing and supportive footwear for the environment and your activity. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially on warmer days.

Before embarking on any new physical activity, consider your current fitness level and consult a healthcare professional, like an orthopedic specialist or physical therapist, who can help identify any weaknesses, imbalances, and other conditions to reduce your risk of injury.

Incorporating green exercise into your workouts

Combining the physical benefits of fitness with the restorative power of nature through green exercise can transform your fitness routine. Whether it’s a leisurely walk in the park, an invigorating hike through the woods, or a yoga session in a peaceful garden, spending time in natural surroundings offers an array of benefits for both body and mind. So, step outside, breathe in the fresh air, and let green exercise transform how you approach fitness and well-being.

Ready to incorporate green exercise into your daily routine? We’ve got specialists for that, and with the most Castle Connolly Top Doctors® on Long Island, Orlin & Cohen’s team features some of the nation’s best orthopedic specialists who can help you live a more healthy, active life. Request an appointment.

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