Are you a dyed in the wool gym bunny? Bit too much time on the sofa over the winter? If you're reading this, the answer is probably 'no'. But sometimes we can all be guilty of feeling that getting out in the fresh air is just a little too much hassle.
If so, our regular guest blogger Adele Mitchell suggests you read this, grab your bike and get out there... Here are her 6 compelling reasons why outdoor exercise is best:
1. There are no mirrors in the outdoor gym
Exercise indoors – especially in a gym or fitness studio - and there’s bound to be a mirror nearby. The result? Working out becomes about what you look like, not what your body can do. Get outdoors and you can forget looking at yourself and become more aware of how you feel – and, once you’re pumped full of execrise induced endorphins, that will be awesome!
2. Every ride is an adventure
Ride close to home or take a trip, there’s always a new challenge to enjoy. On a mountain bike you can ride the same trail everyday for a week and everything from the grip to the way the light falls on the trail will be different each time. On the road you can choose to turn either left or right (and how often do we choose to turn left when right leads home!), go hard on the hills or back off and enjoy the view.
For me, never knowing what’s round the next corner is a joy – from native pony foals on Dartmoor (how could we not stop to watch them?) to a particularly craggy Welsh rock that landed me in the minor injuries unit, to finally nailing a technical trail that’s defeated me for years, its all out there to be experienced.
3. Outside is free*
No one is going to charge you a monthly fee (terms and conditions apply etc) to go outside despite the fact that it is more wondrous, exhilarating and beautiful than the inside of a gym can ever be. And while we’re on the subject of money… one year’s membership to my local cycling club (join as many rides as you like, all year) costs the same as ONE CLASS at a London spin studio. That’s what I’m talking about.
4. You meet lots of awesome people
Cycling puts cyclists in a very good mood indeed. So much so, that the opportunity to chat with another cyclist (also likely to be in a good mood) en route is rarely passed by. It’s like a great big outside drinks party, but without the drinks, or the party. Of course, the unwritten rule is that there is only one topic of conversation, and that’s cycling. “Where are you riding today?’ ‘Where have you ridden from?’ and ‘Are you training for an event?’ are all perfectly acceptable conversation openers. ‘Well hello, hot stuff’ is best avoided.
5. You can be yourself
Get outdoors and you can choose to play on the trails, explore country lanes or meditate on the meaning of life. You can pour your heart out to your best mate (what’s said in the woods, stays in the woods, of course) or just potter about enjoying the view. You can sob your heart out (although in my experience crying and riding uphill are mutually exclusive btw) or stick both legs out and shout ‘weeeeeeeeeee’ (doesn’t work going uphill either). It’s unlikely that you can do any of these things in a step class.
6. You get really, really fit
Without doubt the times that I am at my fittest is when I am putting the miles in ahead of an event. Of course, you should supplement your training with weights training and yoga or pilates, but it is those deliciously hard miles on the road or trails that deliver the results. Outside is simply more challenging – the wind blows, the hills don’t end just because you’ve ridden uphill for five minutes already, the sprint to the next tree suddenly becomes a sprint to the tree after that. Find a fast friend, and you’ll have even more fun.
What’s not to like?
Adele will be contributing monthly articles exclusively here on the VeloVixen blog - for more from her, follow her blog at www.adelemitchell.com.
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