While winter weather can cause many to feel like staying in, and while the idea of exercising outdoors might not seem appealing to you, the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week.

After accepting the necessity, people often wonder how to exercise outdoors safely, and we like to suggest taking the Heel-to-toe-Express! Depending on your fitness and abilities you can go for a walk, hike, or jog. And the beauty is they don’t require equipment.

To help you get motivated, here are several benefits of these outdoor exercises:

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

1. Walking

Walking is a low-impact weight-bearing cardio exercise. Outdoor walking exposes us to sunlight, and sunlight is something our skin needs to produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important factor in our health and well-being, because a deficit of it can weaken our bones, immune system, and can also make us susceptible to SAD (season affective disorder).

Walking is a body-weight-bearing exercise, which can help to increase/maintain your bone density. Walking also helps to freshen up your thinking (due to enhanced blood flow to your brain), relieve stress (due to the release of endorphins), and promotes a healthy metabolism, and a well-conditioned heart.

NF Tip: even if you’re not walking with another person, a daily walk in nature has been proven to be a very important factor for mental health.

2. Hiking

Hiking is walking on uneven terrain and is often enjoyed on trails and footpaths. Benefits of hiking include those found in walking, plus the increased benefit to your cardiovascular system, core stability, ankle mobility, and leg strength.

Hiking also challenges your proprioception (ability to control your body while moving), thanks to the many micro-adjustments you must make as you move upon a changing terrain. Hiking also does a better job at conditioning your core and lower body muscles – including the spinal erectors, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and ankle muscles.

NF tip: for that extra balance and integration of your upper body, try Nordic walking poles or carry a walking/hiking stick with you. Using either can also help prevent a slip or fall on uneven and slippery surfaces.

3. Jogging

Did you know, when done properly jogging is much different than running? To start, the technique is much different, and when done gently and carefully it can positively stimulate your:

  1. bone density,
  2. joint integrity, and
  3. cartilage elasticity – which are three very important things!

NF Tip: When jogging we often recommend starting slow, even if it’s 15-30 seconds at a time. And then slowly integrate longer jogging intervals combined with shorter rest periods over time. For more details on how to successfully do this, ask us.

Walking, hiking and jogging outdoors are all sure-fire ways to improve your health.

Improve Your Health

The long-term benefits of taking the heel-to-toe express are fantastic because a stronger heart, fitter lungs, and a greater Vo2 – which is your ability to pick up and deliver oxygen on the neuromuscular level, all contribute to a longer and fuller life. 

And as with dynamic resistance training, the cardiovascular benefits of outdoor movement is also one of the best ways bolt up your cognitive performance (improved focus, memory, and mental resilience).

So get outside and exercise (even in the winter), and if you want to improve your health and fitness with a customized plan then reach out to us, by requesting a complimentary consultation and mini-workout. We offer in-person, virtual and studio workouts, and we can even work out with you outdoors – contact us today to claim your first free workout.

Personal Training Toronto
A Nielsen Fitness personal trainer can help you improve your health.

Updated on December 30, 2022.