Why You Should Ditch the Treadmill and Start Running Outside

It’s great that “being fit” has become increasingly popular here in the Philippines over the last few years. Whether it’s setting up camp in the weight room, becoming Crossfit-crazed or getting into Yoga, it’s pretty clear — and pretty awesome — that Pinoys want to be fitter and healthier.

One of the simplest ways to stay in shape however, is to run. Running is one of the best forms of exercise because while it’s easy, it still has tremendous health benefits.

Some of which are:
  • Improves cardiovascular health and reduces the risk for heart diseases
  • Increases bone density which reduces the risk of getting osteoporosis
  • Strengthens and tones leg muscles
  • Strengthens and tones core muscles
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Helps burn calories and reduce body fat percentage
  • Improves your immune system so you don’t get sick easily

But WHERE and HOW should you run? Is running on a treadmill enough of an exercise to improve your health or does jogging in a more natural setting offer more health benefits?

Running in the gym is more appealing to a lot of people. Rightly so too, because it has a lot of advantages over running outside:
  • It’s more convenient. No matter what the weather’s like, you can still exercise.
  • It offers a more familiar setting. This reduces the chances of injury because you’re used to the treadmill.
  • It’s more accessible. You can squeeze in a workout even when you’ve got lots of chores or work to do.
  • Treadmills have different profiles you can use depending on your fitness goals (burn fat, improve cardiovascular health, etc.)
  • Running on a treadmills offers lower impact on your joints, which means if you have weak joints or are recovering from an injury, you’ll be more comfortable. It also reduces the chances of getting injured overall.
  • You can see exactly how many calories you’re burning on the monitor. It also allows you to see the distance you’ve covered so far as well as your current heart rate.
  • Treadmills have all the features of expensive sport watches and heart-rate monitors without costing you an arm and a leg.

However, as effective as jogging on a treadmill is in terms of burning calories and being more convenient, there’s one thing it can’t do: improve mental health.

Although they are basically the same, studies have shown that there are more benefits of jogging outside when it comes to mental health. For instance, a 2008 Scottish Health Survey led by Professor Richard Mitchell found that people who run outside have a 50% chance of improving mental health as compared to those who run inside the gym.

These people have less problems sleeping and aren’t prone to mild depression. Increased feelings of vitality are also attributed to running outside as well as experiencing better moods and reducing stress because the brain reacts positively to a natural setting. Another study, this time by the University of Bangor, revealed that running outside helps you let go of anger quicker and develops better concentration.

Running outdoors also results in more energy produced, giving runners more energy to use throughout the day, lessening fatigue.

If those reasons aren’t enough, here are other benefits of jogging in a natural setting
  • Contributes to healthy joints.
  • You burn more calories by exerting more effort to battle wind resistance.
  • Improves balance, coordination and core muscle strength because you’re most likely going to run in different landscapes.
  • It’s distraction-free as compared to gyms where there are noisy guests and blaring music.
  • It’s free. You can save money from expensive gym membership.

(For many people, the last one is enough reason to choose jogging outside. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why pay for something you can get for free?)

Most importantly though, running regularly will prolong your life. A 2011 study published in the European Society of Cardiology by the Copenhagen City Heart showed that regular jogging increases life expectancy in both men and women by 5 to 6 years.

So, better health both physically and mentally, and a longer life. What more do you need? Ditch the treadmill and get on the road — literally and figuratively — to a healthier lifestyle.

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