The Benefits of Running Outside
No one contests the physical benefits of running. From shedding weight, to improving heart function, to preventing disease, running is widely recognized as one of the most effective forms of exercise.
Less recognized, however, are the mental and spiritual benefits derived from running, especially when you run outdoors. Whether you’re participating in races such as a marathon or half marathon, running along a mountain trail, or simply going for a brisk jog in the park, striking outdoors provides a number of unexpected gifts for runners.
Of course, there are many benefits to simply running indoors on a treadmill. Running and exercise in general have been proven to combat depression and anxiety. It helps boost confidence and provides a sense of achievement. Many runners talk about the sense of mental clarity that it imparts.
These are all fantastic results, so if you prefer to run on a treadmill, more power to you. But if you truly want to get the most out of running, you’ve got to head outdoors.
First of all, running outside—especially on an uneven surface like a trail or on cobblestones—provides a more effective physical workout. The changing terrain forces you to work out more muscles in your legs, as well as your arms and core. If you’re running on a soft trail, it’s also easier on your joints and tendons.
As for mental and spiritual benefits, that’s where running outside really excels.
Let’s look at running in races such as a marathon or half marathon first. Consider the connection it provides to other runners. It generates a sense of community and shared accomplishment, which is beneficial on both communal and individual levels.
And what about running in more rural settings, like on a trail? When it comes to running there may be no better gift than a run through the woods and connecting to nature. Studies have shown that even just five minutes of running through a green space improves mood and self esteem more effectively than running indoors.
Bottom line—if you want to get add heightened levels of mental and spiritual benefits to your run, take it outside.