Last week, most states shut down indoor gyms and fitness centers in an effort to thwart the spread of the “corona-bug,” forcing people to head outside to exercise.
The way I see it, this new development is yet another bright spot in the whole corona-crisis. And it’s something I’ve been recommending for years!
Indoor gyms were cesspools of germs, even before coronavirus
Even before the “corona-bug” hit the U.S., dark, dank, stinky indoor gyms and fitness centers were breeding grounds for harmful germs—from the locker room floor where you change into your workout clothes to the gym or yoga mats where you practice your downward-facing dog.
In fact, according to a 2018 study, the average bench in a gym locker room has six times more bacteria than an animal crate.
Indoor gyms also increasingly harbor the flesh-eating bacteria Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—more commonly known as MRSA. In fact, my daughter had a classmate in college who was a world-class athlete. But his career ended abruptly when he contracted MRSA from a dirty gym mat.
In addition, as I’ve explained before, running, walking, or pumping iron on artificial machines and surfaces just isn’t good for your body. People tend to overwork their muscles and harm their joints by performing the same repetitive motions week after week on hard, unforgiving surfaces.
Worse yet, many gyms promote “excess-ercise,” as I like to call it, to keep you overly engaged and paying their expensive monthly fees.
But really, studies show you only need a total of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise weekly to dramatically lower your mortality risk.
So, the way I see it, even after the corona-bug passes, there are three major reasons why you’re far better off skipping the indoor gym and exercising outside in Nature…
1.) It boosts your vitamin D levels
Exercising in Nature puts you out in the sun. Which, in most parts of the country at this time of year, is just about high enough in the sky to trigger your body’s own natural production of vitamin D—the all-important vitamin that protect you against just about every chronic disease on the planet.
Vitamin D also boosts immune health and helps you fight off harmful germs—two things we all could use some help with in the coming month. Especially while social distancing is still required.
(In fact, while all of mainstream medicine seems to be focused on developing a new “wonder drug” or another shot to combat the “corona-bug,” we really should be looking at practical steps you can take RIGHT NOW to boost your immunity. Improving vitamin D levels with sun exposure and supplementation is just one key step. For more recommendations, check out my Pandemic Protection Playbook: How to become “immune ready” in every season. To learn more about this essential guide, click here now! And, next week, I’ll report a new study that found vitamin D supplementation can lower your risk of respiratory infections by up to 80 percent…so stay tuned!)
In addition to triggering D production, exposing your skin to strong sunshine also releases nitric oxide, which helps support healthy circulation to get blood, immune cells, and nutrients to your whole body. Nitric oxide also helps lower blood pressure.
2.) It’s better for your joints and muscles
As I’ve reported before, walking and climbing over natural terrain is far more beneficial for you than artificial, smooth, hard surfaces. For one, natural terrain has different and changing textures, inclines, and obstacles.
In fact, when you walk out in Nature, you must constantly flex your ankles, feet, and legs, adjusting to the terrain. You also use muscles differently outside, which reduces repetitive strain and injuries.
By comparison, in a gym, most people are very routine-oriented. They pound away week after week, completing the same, boring regimen, on the same hard, flat surfaces, which can actually cause great harm to your joints (and muscles).
3.) It boosts your mood
Exercising outside is simply more pleasurable than exercising inside. Outside, you can listen to the sounds of Nature—such as birds singing, water flowing, and wind in the trees—instead of the grunts and groans of hormone-charged zealots in dark, industrial, cavernous gyms.
Which is probably why it provides such a boost to your mood.
In fact, scientific studies show walking outdoors eases anxiety and depression. And men and women who exercise outdoors consistently perform better on psychological tests than those who perform the same amount of exercise indoors. They score higher on enthusiasm, pleasure, self-esteem, and vitality. And they score lower on depression, fatigue, and tension. People who exercise outdoors also have lower levels of cortisol—the chronic stress hormone.
Moderation is the key. Even when exercising outside.
I’ll never forget the title of the last movie made by the iconic actor Cary Grant as he was getting older. It was set in Tokyo during the 1964 Olympics and was called, “Walk, Don’t Run.” That’s good advice for us all, especially as we get older.
So, as always, aim for 2.5 total hours of exercise weekly. Some of my favorite outdoor activities to achieve this goal include swimming outside in a lake, pond, or ocean; working outside in the garden or the yard; hiking, walking, and forest bathing. (I explain how to take advantage of the “new” trend of forest bathing in the March 2020 issue of my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter [“The simplest way to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and ward off cancer—naturally”]. Not yet a subscriber? Click here now!)
In fact, now that all the mainstream experts are suddenly recommending outdoor exercise, as if it were something new or profound, I can only hope it will catch on.
And I think it is!
During my drives through town out to the country to exercise, I see more people out and about during a regular workday than I’ve ever noticed before. They’re all exercising or working in the yard. And most of them are keeping their distance from each other! Now that’s what I’d call a silver lining to this whole mess.
So, in the coming weeks, as the corona-bug hopefully grinds itself out with warmer weather, I hope you, too, will enjoy some safe outdoor activities.
“Germs in the gym locker room.” Fit Rated, access 3/21/20. (fitrated.com/resources/germs-in-the-locker-room/)
“Outdoor physical activity and self-rated health in older adults living in two regions of the U.S.” Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012 Jul 30;9:89. doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-9-89.
“The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors.” The New York Times (nytimes.com), 2/21/2013.