The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Why spending time with Mother Nature can give us a little weight loss help

Here's why outdoor exercise can be such a big weight loss help after bariatric surgery

If your weight loss surgeon has cleared you to start exercising, you have a decision to make: inside or outside? The South Florida heat can make the choice hard, with the beautiful sunshine beckoning and high temperatures scaring us away. Though we may flock outside to beaches, barbecues and picnics for weekend fun, the prospect of exercising in the heat can be daunting.

The average American spends about 90 percent of his or her life indoors, but spending more time in the open air can be a big help with weight loss. As you focus on losing weight and developing a healthier lifestyle after weight loss surgery, here are two mental and physical benefits that spending more time outdoors can give you:

Improve Concentration

Our modern lives are full of distractions. Advertisements vie for our attention at every turn as our eyes are constantly glued to computer screens, cellphones and televisions. On top of this, we’re barraged by Facebook and Twitter updates and buried under the informational overload of the Information Age. Unfortunately, our attention is a limited resource and can quickly be depleted by this bombardment.

The human brain has two kinds of attention: directed attention, which is the voluntary attention we use to focus ourselves on various daily tasks, and involuntary attention, which is the uncontrolled attention we pay to things like a crying baby or a running stream. Our directed attention is sapped quickly by demands at work and technological distractions, but experts say that engaging the involuntary attention with views of nature and green space can give our directed attention some much needed time to recharge.

The concept is called attention restoration theory and can be hugely beneficial for both children and adults. If you feel mentally fatigued, there are few things that can give you a boost like spending some time in the great outdoors.

Boost Vitamin D Levels

When sunshine hits your skin, your body creates vitamin D, one of the most important nutrients for protecting your body from many different diseases. Vitamin D helps fight off osteoporosis, cancer, depression, heart attacks and strokes, but most Americans do not get enough of it.

You can increase your vitamin D levels by just getting out in the sunshine a few times a week, exposing your arms and legs for 10 to 15 minutes. However, don’t take this as an excuse to bake in the sun all day long—you should limit your sun exposure and apply sunscreen when you plan on being outside for extended periods of time.

If your weight loss surgeon hasn’t yet cleared you for exercise, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors either. Put a comfortable chair out on your front porch, hook a hammock up in your backyard or pull a beach chair out of the garage and sit in the lawn. Spending more time away from the hustle and bustle of the electronic world can help you feel refreshed and more energetic to make healthy decisions moving forward.