Another reason to sign up for Circle's 5km for AvMA!

Benefits of Outdoor Exercise 

Having worked in the fitness industry for the past 20 years or so, I had thought that I knew most of the benefits of exercise. I recently completed a little research on outdoor exercise, and in particular jogging, I’ve discovered a few more interesting benefits than I had realised. It just goes to show that every day can indeed be a school day. 

The most obvious and easily accessible exercise is probably jogging. It has become more popular, especially during the recent Covid pandemic. It has been a way for many people to get out of the house, into the fresh air and being out with nature, which in itself is very calming. It has been fantastic for improving mental health and the recent pandemic has heightened awareness in this area.  It has probably saved a number of marriages too. 

Vitamin D 

Being outside in the sun allows us to absorb vitamin D which improves our mood and immune system. SAD Syndrome or Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter months is a real problem in the northern hemisphere where we shut ourselves away in our warm centrally heated houses and start to feel lethargic, low in mood, irritable, craving carbohydrates and even prone to weight gain. It is sometimes known as Winter depression. During this time, our bodies lack vitamin D. 

Lack of vitamin D can lead to health problems such as a weakened immune system, depression, fatigue, and poor bone density. Vegans especially need to monitor their vitamin D levels.  Increasing our vitamin D intake by taking supplements or getting out in the sunshine will improve our wellbeing. Morning or winter sun will benefit us without damaging the skin due to extreme sun exposure. 


When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, otherwise known as the feel-good hormone. This improves our mood, combats depression, reduces stress, improves memory and the cortisol release increases energy levels and heightens awareness.  This is why we feel so great after exercising.  What is not to like. 

Fitness & Weight Loss 

Jogging is a free and a way of improving our general fitness levels. It burns calories and increases our metabolism to assist in weight loss. These would probably be the most common reasons for doing it. However, doing this outdoors expends more calories due to terrain variation, wind resistance and heat.  The body is an efficient machine that refines calorie burning to a minimum.  Increased exercise, with the challenge on each run of a few of these variants and it the body will respond by burning more calories as it has to work harder. 

Bone Destiny 

Bones need weight bearing exercise to keep strong. This is especially important for peri/menopausal/post-menopausal women, preventing osteoporosis where the bones start to become weak and crumble. Although there is speculation that jogging is hard on the joints, jogging on soft terrain brings more benefits than problems.  Remember the biggest killer, stems from inactivity. 

Strengthening Muscles 

Strengthening muscles is far more important than we realise, for instance it’s the difference between being able to get up off the floor without holding onto something for assistance and getting up from a chair unassisted as opposed to replying on aids and assistance from others.  Putting on your socks and pants can become a less than easy exercise and a very real problem. 

Exercising outdoors on varying terrain with help with muscle strength. Turning a corner would use core engagement, running downhill would use the quads at the front of the legs, manoeuvring terrain will help with agility and balance. 

Additional Benefits 

Outdoor exercise will also improve fitness levels and health.  How this benefits the body is that the cardiovascular system improves, blood flow improves, the heart strengthens, the lung capacity increases and improves. Physical activity improves blood pressure and heart rate. This can increase the longevity of our life. What’s not to do? 

Outdoor running as opposed to running on a treadmill, which is a pretty one-dimensional workout, is unpredictable due to the differing terrain. Different muscles are used, and ankles are flexed more. Our bodies love to be challenged in this way and respond well. 

Blood Circulation 

The little less obvious benefits I found to be interesting. Blood circulation to your organs improves during exercise.  Our largest organ is the skin. Oxygen supplied to the skin, helps to produce new healthy skin cells and repair damaged skin. Just look at that healthy glow when you come back from an hour’s jog. It’s almost like having a facial. 

Cellulite reduction 

Improved muscle tone and tighter skin, reduces fat cells and this can reduce or eliminate cellulite altogether. 

Skin Improvement 

When we exercise outdoors, we perspire. The perspiration opens the pores in the skin and flushes out impurities and toxins. Provided we wash this away, this will lead to a clearer healthier complexion. Acne will improve not only because of this, but also due to hormones rebalancing due to exercise. The removal of toxins through sweat will support the production of collagen, great for skin elasticity and the prevention of wrinkles and fine lines. A bit cheaper than buying a magic potion in a jar or an acne cream. 

Hair Improvement 

The increased blood circulation and improved oxygen levels will strengthen hair roots, promote hair growth, and strengthen existing hair.  Your locks will look luscious. 

Magic Moments 

Jogging outdoors can be a solitary and mindful experience, allowing us to meditate and enjoy peaceful thoughts. Noticing a flower in between a crack in the pavement, a beautiful butterfly, birdsong, a deer in a field or a rainbow are all those little moments that we would not have experienced if we were indoors. We all need magic moments.  Apparently not everyone sees rainbows. That of course is another discussion altogether. 

It can also be a social and fun experience to run with a group or a friend. This can make it less of a chore and more something to look forward to. Boosting confidence as we improve our time, health, duration and fitness levels. Trying out different routes and discovering your surroundings and scenery around you can make it fun and interesting. 

So from someone who says that they have no interest in jogging. I’ve ditched my potions, hair conditioner, cellulite rub, vitamins, salon appointments and gym membership. I’ve put my trainers on…. see you in an hour 😊 

Don't forget to register to join our 5km race all in aid of AvMA!

Posted on February 17th 2023

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