Why an outdoor workout is better for you than indoors
A short walk outside improves memory and concentration more than a similar walk done inside, according to a study published earlier this year.
The study was carried out by Canadian researchers and published in the journal Scientific Reports, which is part of Nature Portfolio.
The study found that the “event-related neural response” that impacts working memory and attention increased with a 15-minute outdoor stroll. The result was not as robust when participants took a similar walk indoors.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said the findings show that, at least for short durations of exercise, one’s environment could be a more important factor in increasing cognitive function than the workout itself.
“With the world’s growing urbanization and the associated increase in sedentary time indoors, a deeper understanding of how these factors interact and influence cognition may be critical to combat adverse health effects,” the study said.
Avoid the concrete jungle
There are caveats, though, to mixing nature and exercise to create the best effect. Simply being outdoors by itself may not be enough if the outdoors is bounded by buildings and concrete.
In a review of past research published last year, researchers found that exercising in urbanized outdoor settings — which they defined as commercial districts, downtowns, and other built-up areas with few trees or other natural elements — tended to be less beneficial for people’s mental health than similar exercise in greener, untrammeled environments, like parks and forests.