Living here in southern Spain we enjoy the fantastic benefits of over 300 days of sunshine per year, healthy Mediterranean diet and hopefully less day to day stress. We all want to stay healthy and this need does not stop when we live in such a great environment, but unlike countries with a colder climate we have the luxury of exercising outdoors all year round.
Take for example running. Running is extremely popular, and a lot of people choose the treadmill over running outside as they perceive that they will be less prone to injuries. Recent studies have shown, however, that on a treadmill the joints and ligaments are put under a lot more stress due to the repetitive nature of running on the same surface at the same angle for mile after mile. This contrasts with running outside where every step is different which strengthens your joints and ligaments and also improves balance and activates other area such as your core muscles for an all over body workout. There is also the added benefit of wind resistance outdoors which enables you to burn more calories in the same amount of time. Another study showed that on a treadmill the perception of speed is distorted so runners tend to run slower than if they were running outdoors.
There are other great and surprising benefits of exercising in the great Spanish outdoors:
- It’s good for your mind and your body.
We work out mostly for the physical benefits, but what about the mental boost? A research team from the Peninsula College of Medicine analysed 11 trials including more than 800 adults and found that outdoor exercise was associated with increased energy and revitalization, as well as decreased confusion, anger, depression and tension, when compared with exercising indoors. Outdoor participants also reported enjoying their workouts more and said they were more likely to repeat them than participants who were exercising indoors. Numerous pieces of research show a clear connection between spending time outdoors and a reduction in stress. Plus, fresh air and increased oxygen helps release the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin – meaning your outdoor training sessions not only help keep you fit and healthy, they put you in a fantastic mood too.
- Outdoor fitness may be easier to stick with.
Creating an exercise habit is difficult but finding one you enjoy can make it easier to come back to. So that shot of pleasure you get from being outdoors may mean it’s more likely you’ll stick to your program. Canadian researchers found post-menopausal women reaped more benefits from outdoor workouts and were significantly more likely to adhere to their training program than those who did their exercising indoors.
- Soak up the sunshine benefits.
While unprotected overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase your risk of skin cancer, we shouldn’t overlook the many benefits of sunlight. When the sun hits our skin, it creates vitamin D3, important to bone health and metabolic function. In addition, exposure to sunlight during the day can help you sleep better at night, improve immune function and increase endorphin production— those feel-good hormones circulating throughout your body.
Exercising in the great outdoors in Axarquia is not limited to running and walking as you can enjoy spin (static cycling), circuit training and personal training sessions at Chili Leisure in Cómpeta. The classes are all outdoors overlooking the beautiful coastline and mountain ranges under the supervision and guidance of fully qualified staff. So now there are many ways to reap the benefits of exercising in the open air!
If you love fitness and want to turn your passion in to a profession we also offer qualifications in fitness, internationally recognised, such as Level 2 Fitness Instructor, L3 Personal Trainer, Metafit HIIT Instructor, Static Bike Instructor and more! Get in touch for Coast Women special discounts.
Karen Parnell, Personal Trainer and Triathlon Coach at Chili Tri in Cómpeta, Southern Spain Www.chiliTri.com
Circuit Training class at Chili Leisure in Cóm