Working out is hard. It’s hard to find a routine that will achieve what we want but won’t kill us. It’s hard to find the time to get a proper workout, and not rush. It’s very difficult to stick with it, to stay motivated long enough to get enough of a reward to feel propelled.
All of this is a mental and physical challenge to both extremes for average people, it really is. On top of this, there’s the challenge of the environment. Where would or where should you work out? Is it okay to do your exercises in your living room? Or how about an exercise room, the basement, or the garage?
That must not be good enough, right? After all, gyms exist, and they sell memberships for a reason, right? They must have something going for them to justify the expenses. But then, what about “going outside and getting some exercise”? How often did our parents rant and complain that we didn’t do just that, sitting inside in front of the TV or the Nintendo?
You see joggers, walkers and so on all the time outside, don’t you? And people exercising in the parks? These people often look like they’re in good shape, so clearly, this must work, mustn’t it?
It’s confusing. Ultimately, do you want to go to a gym, or do you want to work out in the great outdoors? Here’s where it becomes a more troublesome comparison – neither is objectively right or wrong. It all depends on what matters most to you, during your workout. Both have their advantages, and they have their disadvantages. Which outweighs what depends entirely on the individual.
It is worth noting that many balance these by having a smaller gym membership, going once a week, and doing the rest of their workout outside, weather permitting. It is an option, depending on where you live.
So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of outdoor and indoor (gym) exercise environments, and maybe you can see which has the most advantage compared to flaws, for your specific needs.
The best part of working out outside is that you have a varied environment. As you walk, jog or whatever, you’ll pass by different houses, different buildings, natural features, etc. You’ll experience and ambiance of a living environment if you’re not listening to your phone.
This will keep you engaged, and motivate you to push on. It also gives you milestones, as you pass specific landmarks. You’ll know your progress, and refocus to push on to pass the next landmark. These little psychological tricks are not to be underestimated, they will keep you moving.
This variety and engagement, as well as your sense of progress, are just some of the ways being outside can raise your mood. Fresh air, sunlight, and a sense of an open world cause the production of dopamine, which is the compound your brain uses for positive moods and even euphoria.
You will feel reinvigorated, and very much more alive after a brisk jog in the open air, as long as it’s not too hot. Weather is a problem, which we’ll get to shortly.
While the gym can also offer a form of social experience, the casual way in which you may meet friends while exercising outside, is a much more relaxed and comfortable encounter. The gym has a way of making social exchanges potentially awkward, which we’ll also get to shortly.
The weather can be a problem. It’s uncontrollable, so when it decides to rain, it’s going to do so, without consulting you on your fitness schedule. Rain isn’t hazardous, but exercising in it is unpleasant, and you could get the sniffles or a cold.
Lightning storms are flat out dangerous, lightning strikes being usually lethal, as are falling tree branches. Gale force wind storms are equally deadly, as anyone who’s experienced a hurricane can vouch.
But even when the weather is calm, it can be hazardous to strain yourself in. Extreme heat is dangerous, and if it’s a dry heat, you may not even realize you have heat stroke or extreme dehydration until it’s almost too late.
Extreme cold isn’t as immediately fatal, as you will produce heat from the exercise, but if it’s cold enough that the air hurts to breathe, you want to make this a short routine if at all. Of course, be sure there isn’t ice to slip on too, there’s always that.
Remember that you’re in a public space, which isn’t the same kind of public as a gym. People are going about their average lives around you, and if you disrupt it, you can be met with hostility. This hostility could potentially be justified, depending on how inconsiderate you’ve been.
This also means that dangerous people can be around you. Be wary of what neighborhoods or areas your routine takes you through.
What happens when you need to use the restroom? What if you need a sit down? Depending on where you are, you may have no immediate access to a restroom, nor anywhere to stop and sit down for a minute.
This may seem like a small thing, but that’s only true until you experience needing these, and them not being available.
This also means you may be away from someone whom can call 911 if you hurt yourself while exercising. You could lie there for hours before someone finds you, depending on where you are. Be sure you have your phone.
Variety of Equipment
A gym can provide pretty much every type of practical equipment you might need. You can do more advanced workouts, and target specific parts of your body. If you need to do a routine, they probably have the equipment for you.
In a gym, while it’s still sort of a public space, everyone is there to exercise. This means that you can even get into groups and classes, where you and others can help each other learn and grow healthier, under the tutelage of an expert trainer.
A gym has all those facilities we mentioned being missing outside. There are restrooms, rest areas, changing rooms, and most also have showers. You can change into work out clothes, do your routine, shower off, dress back up, and leave just as clean and acceptable as you were when you came in.
The weather can’t bother you in a gym. You’re inside, so rain, wind and lightning can’t get in. The climate control maintains a steady optimum temperature and humidity, meaning you’re exercising in the most pleasant atmosphere possible, albeit an artificial one.
Gym memberships aren’t cheap. If you want to get the maximum experience from your membership, you have to pay a premium, to have privileges. Depending on your income, these costs can be really heavy.
So, you have to get to the gym, which may not be an easy walk from your house. If you don’t have a car, getting a ride there can be onerous, and become an excuse not to exercise. Even if you do have a car, burning the gas to get there, fighting with traffic, dealing with driving in weather – all of these can be defeatist elements as well.
This is also called “gymtimidation”, but that’s a dumb word. Basically, you’re working out in front of other people, of all walks in life. The opposite sex will see you. You may feel like an overweight joke in the eyes of the really fit, lifetime fitness people.
The truth is that even a lot of fit people are just as conscious, they’re just so used to it they tune it out. In most cases, nobody is actually judging anyone. Unfortunately, self-conscious impulses like this are deep-rooted in us.
The thing is, though, you’ll be seen in public too. The only way out of this is to exercise at home, alone.
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