It’s no secret that physical activity is good for us.  Just about every day, the news contains stories about the health benefits of staying active.  But getting enough exercise isn’t always easy with our busy schedules.  To help make it easier for people to be physically active, many communities, including Union Park by Hillwood, have installed outdoor fitness parks. So, what is so special about working out in the park?  Let’s explore.

5 Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Working out outside offers many benefits that indoor gyms often don’t provide. Here are five benefits of working out outside vs. inside:

1. Improve Your Mood

For many people, the thought of working out in a gym doesn’t inspire excitement. On the other hand, going outside has been shown to improve mood and mental health.

One study published in 2009 showed that there’s a significant difference in cognitive wellbeing between those who get lots of sun and those who do not. In fact, those with minimal exposure to sunlight were 1.36 times (or 36%) more likely to experience cognitive impairment than those who got the highest amount of sun, making it a major factor in mental health.

2. Help the Environment

A fitness park is not only good for individual health, but also for the wellbeing of the environment as a whole. Many pieces of gym equipment rely on electricity and therefore add to the community’s carbon footprint. On the other hand, exercising outdoors doesn’t require much, if any, electricity, which saves on carbon emissions.

Those savings increase if the park is within your own community. If you have sport courts, athletic fields, tracks, and other outdoor fitness equipment within convenient walking or biking distance, driving to the gym doesn’t have to be part of your exercise routine.

3. Meet Other Health Enthusiasts

Working out at a neighborhood park is also a great way to meet your neighbors. Exercising outdoors can be an amazing social outlet.

For instance, the outdoor areas at Union Park were designed to spark spontaneous encounters between neighbors and the walking trails, Fitness Park, pools, dog park and playgrounds are popular gathering places for our community. Engaging in outdoor exercise is a great way to build lasting friendships on the foundation of common interests in fitness.

4. Inspire Others to Be Healthy

As you exercise outside, it sets an example for others that’s easy to see and just might spur them to get started on their own fitness routine. Gyms are often exclusive places—the only people who will see you there are the members who are already going themselves.

On the other hand, outdoor fitness activities are a great way to include people. Going for a run together, playing pickleball or basketball, or simply walking the dog can help foster a healthy community.

5. Exercising Outdoors Is Fun!

Finally, going outside to exercise is just plain fun! There are so many enjoyable activities that you can do outside, so you really have your pick of how you exercise.

In addition, working out in the park feels far less like work than going to the gym does. Studies indicate that the color of your surroundings actually impacts your perception of exercise, with the color green producing the most positive results. When you exercise in an area with lots of greenery, you’re less likely to notice how much you’re exerting yourself.

By creating a more positive workout experience, you’re more likely to want to return to it the next day, which can create a lasting habit.

Top Ways to Work Out in the Park

Outdoor fitness parks provide many ways to have fun while you work out. Some great ways to exercise in a fitness park include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Running a 40-yard dash
  • Playing sports like pickleball, basketball, and volleyball
  • Tossing a Frisbee around
  • Biking
  • Walking the dog

Many outdoor parks have specialized features that give you even more options. For instance, at Union Park, our Fitness Park includes a lap pool, splash pad, rubberized walking track, 40-yard dash, sports courts, and ninja-style fitness stations.

When it comes to exercising outdoors, these tips can help you get the most out of your exercise regimen:

  • Stay hydrated. Carry plenty of water.
  • Wear good athletic shoes.
  • Use sunscreen and/or a hat, particularly during longer workouts.
  • Wear sweat-wicking fabric if working out in colder temperatures.

Following these tips can help you have the best experience possible, making it easier to come back to it day after day.

Work Out Outside at Union Park by Hillwood

At Union Park by Hillwood in Little Elm, TX, we have miles of hiking and biking trails and several beautiful green spaces that are perfect for exercising outdoors, including our amazing Fitness Park!  Come be part of a healthy, thriving community and enjoy the many amenities our homeowners love. To learn more about Union Park, take a virtual tour or contact us for more details.