Recreation Center

The Emotional Benefits of Outdoor Activity

Soak up some sun, get some fresh air, or stop and smell the roses. No matter what, take advantage of all the emotional benefits of being in the great outdoors.
Melissa Albers, Assistant Director - Fitness & Aquatics

Man standing in front of lake and mountains

Summer and nicer (hopefully warmer) weather are just around the corner, and, as Clevelanders, we know we need to take full advantage of every nice day we get! So, let’s take a dive into the emotional benefits of outdoor activity.

Studies have shown that taking yourself outside to workout or for your favorite leisure activities, you can improve your mood and reduce anger and depression. Did you know that exposure to sunlight enhances vitamin D production?  It’s true!  And you can thank vitamin D for being partially responsible for the boost in mood that you’re feeling. Don’t have a lot of time? That’s totally fine! Even a quick 15-minute walk can leave you feeling energized.  

A hand touching calm water

In addition, research has shown that as little as 5 minutes of outdoor exercise can improve self-esteem. Being near greenery (hello Cleveland Metroparks) or water (Oh hey, Lake Erie!) enhances this effect, but any outdoor space will do in a pinch. No need to worry about pushing it too hard when outside because, surprisingly, low-to-moderate intensity physical activity has shown greater improvements to self-esteem when compared to high-intensity outdoor exercise. Fishing, gardening, cycling, and walking are just a few examples of activities shown to give you that self-esteem boost.  

Ballin’ on a budget? We get it! But guess what? The outdoors provide a low-cost solution for exercise enthusiasts. Local parks and your neighborhood sidewalks come at no cost and provide a great space to get moving. Just think of all the walking, running, and cycling that you can do on your neighborhood streets and tracks. Not to mention all the park benches, trees, and rolling hills that you can use for one epic resistance-based workout!

man meditating on a hill at sunset

Lastly, one of the greatest benefits of taking your exercise outside is the opportunity to connect with Mother Nature. This connection can not only be with the environment and surroundings, but also with the people and places in your community. Invite a friend to go on a hike or bike ride with you, or wave hello to your neighbors while out for a walk, and invite them to join you on the next one.

No doubt about it, exercising outdoors can help you feel grounded and more peaceful. Take the step (literally) to deepen your connection to the world around you, and feel grateful for this place we call home.