Nature Matters: Green Exercises for Anyone

girl running outside

I’m a gym rat. I like lifting heavy and throwing iron around. The people, energy, and community that Anytime Fitness provides keeps me motivated and coming back for more. However, especially this time of year, I get spring fever! I need to get outside into open green spaces—sun shining, sweat on, and nature sounds bumpin’. I don’t abandon the gym, but I certainly make sure to incorporate outdoor activities into my routine.

After all, we weren’t meant to be enclosed and sedentary; even as little as five minutes of green exercise a day has been shown to improve mental health and lift our mood. In fact, nature contact yields surprisingly broad benefits. “This contact may occur on a very small scale—plants in the workplace or trees outside the apartment building—or it may occur on a larger scale—a nearby park, a riparian corridor in a city, or a wilderness area…evidence suggests that children and adults benefit so much from contact with nature that land conservation can now be viewed as a public health strategy” (The Nature Principle., Louv, Richard).

Why add outdoor workouts to your routine?

Reverse Mental Fatigue

In general, we are bombarded with tension, stress, and “to-do’s,” but suddenly, when you’re out moving in the spring air, all that mind clutter doesn’t seem to matter as much. Being outdoors helps you get your mind back in focus to things that really matter. We become more existential.

Improve Ability to Focus

Take a break! Chill out. Go on a walk. Our attention span is now less than a goldfish, at eight seconds long. We have to unplug and unwind in order to be more in touch. Physical movement or meditation outdoors can help boost our creativity and problem-solving skills as well.

Raise Immune System

Getting outdoors can lower your cortisol, decrease your blood pressure and heart rate, increase vitamin D, and help you lose weight. Japanese scientists Yoshifumi Miyazaki and Qing Li have been measuring what’s happening in our cells when we get fresh air. They’ve found that just a one-day trip to a suburban park can boost immune activity for at least a week. “If you have time for a vacation, don’t go to a city. Go to a natural area. Try to go one weekend a month. Visit a park at least once a week. Gardening is good. On urban walks, walk under trees…go to a quiet place. Near water is also good.” Qing Li 2010 Jan; 15(1): 9–17. 

Ready to get outdoors? Let’s get GREEN!

Grab a light medicine ball, band, kettlebell, and mat.

Complete this total body circuit, 10 repetitions of each move for 4 rounds, as fast as you can:

  • Plank with med ball roll
  • Med ball squat and press
  • Band row
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Touchdown squat
  • Leg lowers
  • Push-ups

Note: Your local Anytime Fitness gym may be hosting free outdoor workouts for members and non-members in May! Make sure to ask, and think about asking a friend or family member to join you. Exercising is more fun with company. And you need someone to high-five at the end! 

Find more movements, full workouts, and instruction on the Anytime Fitness App (full capabilities available for members only).

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Rachel Prairie is ride-or-die trainer chick. From Director of Training to entrepreneur, Rachel now leads a double-life training Anytime Fitness trainers and as Corporate Trainer at Self Esteem Brands in Woodbury, MN. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she expects the same from her clients: “We hustle harder!” Rachel is a NASM certified personal trainer with a BA in Rhetoric, as well as ACE Kettlebell Level I and Functional Movement Systems (FMS) certified. She is well-versed in empathy, high-fives, eating, lifting weights, hugs, and exploring the great outdoors.