7 Benefits of Exercising Outdoors That You Should Be Aware of ...

The many benefits of exercising outdoors might make you rethink paying that monthly gym membership. Watching TV and ogling hot guys doing dead lifts might be fun, but you'll enjoy yourself even more if you get out in the sun. Yes, you might find it difficult to ditch the climate-controlled environment for the fluctuating temperatures outside, but trust me—it will totally be worth it. So before you renew that gym membership, check out these benefits of exercising outdoors:

1. It's Free

This is one of the most obvious benefits of exercising outdoors. Why spend all that money on a gym membership when the world is your gym? You don't need expensive workout equipment or instructors to help you break a sweat—all you need is a pair of running shoes. However, you can do a lot more outside than just running. Mix things up and challenge your body with exercises like squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and yoga poses. If you're having trouble thinking of exercises to do, just search the web for outdoor workout ideas that don't require exercise equipment.

2. Time Flies when You're outside

The gym can get really boring. You're surrounded by the same scenery every day, and you're stuck in one spot while you toil away on a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or recumbent bike. You might be able to mix up your workout, but you can't change your location. Being stuck in one spot means that you'll only be able to focus on how long you've been working out, so it might seem like you've been running in place forever. However, when you're outside, there's so much to look at—you can run around scenic areas like parks, forests, and lakes. Because you've got something else to focus on besides your workout, it won't seem as long and tedious.

3. You've Got to Love That Freedom and Fresh Air

Is there any better way to wake up than with an early morning run? It's the perfect way to enjoy a little time to yourself, and the peace and quiet paired with the early morning mist is extremely refreshing and invigorating. Running is also a great way to unwind after a stressful day. Just imagine that you're leaving your problems in the dust as you take off on a mini-adventure. We spend so much of our time inside four walls, so it can feel very freeing to escape by getting outside.

4. Your Brain Will Thank You

Some studies have actually shown that exercising outside has a greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym. It does a better job at decreasing tension and depression, and it can actually improve self esteem. So basically it does a spirit good to get a little sunshine. Maybe it has something to do with the fresh air, or maybe it makes you feel less like a hamster on a wheel when you're outside enjoying the grass and trees. Whatever the case may be, exercising outside definitely is the way to go when you're feeling down.

5. You Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an extremely important nutrient for women since it helps our bodies absorb calcium, and it can be hard to get enough of the vitamin from food alone. Luckily, sunshine is one of the best ways for us to get our daily dose of D. Just 15 minutes of sun three times a week will provide you with your body's requirement of vitamin D. A little sun will also give you a nice golden glow, but it's important to wear sunscreen if you plan on being outside for longer than a few minutes. Having to remember to put on sunscreen for longer workouts may seem a bit annoying, but it could actually be beneficial—studies have shown that sunscreen slows skin aging.

6. You Avoid Gym Germs

The sweaty smell of the gym can be pretty gross, right? And have you ever thought about how many sweaty bodies have been on that workout bench? Just thinking of other people's bodily fluids might be enough of an "ick" factor to scare you away from the gym, but there could be something much worse lurking there. The norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, can survive for weeks on exercise machines. You've also got to worry about getting athlete's foot in the shower, and scary MRSA bacteria might be hanging out in the locker room. And you thought muscle-obsessed meatheads were the worst thing that you had to try to avoid at the gym.

7. You Get More out of Your Workout

Studies have shown that running outside is more strenuous than running on a treadmill. Factors like terrain changes and wind help to provide a challenging workout that just can't be replicated in a gym. You can use a machine to replicate going uphill, but you have to be outside to experience the uneven rockiness of a mountain trail or the sinking sand of a beach. And if you're challenging your body more with tough terrain and wind resistance, then you're burning more calories. You could say that you're getting more bang for your buck, but you don't have to spend money on a gym membership to run outside.

Don't be fooled into thinking that you need to pay for fancy equipment and special classes to stay in shape. You'll be doing yourself a big favor by breaking free from the constraints of a gym, and you can use the money you save to buy some hot new clothes for your hot new sun-kissed bod. So do you prefer to exercise outside? If so, what's your favorite outdoor workout? Please share!