When most of us think of working out, we think of a gym, a treadmill, or a fitness class. The thought of having to pack our gym bag, driving to the gym, changing into our gym clothes, working out, showering, and getting dressed to go home or to work sounds like more of a work out than the work out itself. Who said though that working out had to be attached to a gym membership or piece of exercise equipment? Nature itself provides the back drop that we need to provide ourselves with a trail workout that will not only increase calorie burn, but provide a calming environment to distress our mind too.
Trails in nature provide a great place to hike, jog, and climb our way to fitness. The incline of the natural environment of trails provide increased calorie burn to such physical activities and help to strengthen the muscles in our legs while building cardiovascular fitness as well. For a 160-lb. person, according to MayoClinic.com, hiking burns about 438 calories per hour, while trail running, according to Exercise.com, burns about 654 calories per hour.
In addition to its fitness benefits, trails provide a great way to relax our minds. The sound of the birds chirping in the trees, the squirrels hopping around the trail bed, and the sound of the wind blowing the leaves along the ground can help soothe our mind more than any soundtrack on our phone or mp3 player. Getting outside to exercise also provides us with exposure to the sun, which in both cloudy and sunny weather, can provide us with vitamin D3. Just 10 minutes of exposure to the sun three times a week can provide us with nearly all of our daily recommended 800-1000IU of vitamin D. With vitamin D deficiency being linked to weight gain, this is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of being physically active outside. Not only are you burning calories to help you lose weight, but the nutrients from the sun will help further your success with weight loss efforts.
Therefore, take advantage of nature and hit the trails towards wellness!
- Mayo Clinic
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- Institute of Medicine