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Are there any benefits to exercising outdoors as opposed to in a gym

01:00 Mon 25th Mar 2002 |

asks ursula:
Lots. To begin with, we spend between 80% and 90% of our time indoors, on average, and that alone can encourage ill health. A study by Harvard University found that people who worked in offices which were well ventilated were half as likely to take time off sick than those who worked in only moderately ventilated offices. Just having fresher air in their working environment, the researchers concluded could have prevented 35% of all absences due to sickness.

Q. So just being in fresh air is enough to make you healthier
As a rule, yes. Obviously, the further away from traffic you are, the better off you'll be.

Fresh air and sunshine are vital ingredients in naturopathy. Naturopathy is based on the premise that we all have a healing force in us, and that it needs certain conditions to thrive: they include nutritious food, pure water, exercise, sunshine, fresh air and rest. Without these conditions, goes the theory, the body will be in a state of disease.

We also need daylight to make our own supplies of vitamin D - which aids the absorption of calcium to form healthy bones, and of vitamin A, to help maintain a healthy nervous system.

And a direct benefit of being outdoors is that daylight makes our bodies release more serotonin - the 'feel-good' hormone, which lifts the spirits.

Q. Should we only exercise outdoors in good weather
No, it can be done all year around. Exercising in cold weather boosts the circulation and you'll soon warm up. In fact, exercising outdoors in all weathers has become extremely popular with US exercise gurus, who say that, when it comes to exercise, outdoors is the new indoors. They claim that gyms can be boring, smelly, crowded and noisy. Also, while you're plodding away on a piece of exercise equipment, you're on autopilot and bound to become bored quickly and give up.

Much better to be outdoors - it clears your head and gives your brain something to do while you're exercising.

Good outdoor exercises include walking, jogging, running and cycling.

Q. Is there anyone who shouldn't exercise outdoors
Those who suffer from asthma or other breathing disorders should talk to their GP first.

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By Sheena Miller

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