What are the differences between working out indoors and outdoors?


Working out outdoors or at the gym? There are different views on this issue. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working out outdoors? Is the gym the safest option?
Working out outdoors stops the excuses to not workout daily. If you work out at the gym, there’s always a day when it is closed and another day when you don’t feel like going because you don’t want to feel restricted to that space. There’s also the vacation problem; you can’t take the gym with you. If you work out outdoors, even if you are travelling there’s no excuse to exercise only when you go back to the gym.

Running on the treadmill vs Running outdoors

Generally, the treadmill demands less of you than the road and this is the main reason why you burn more calories when you run on the concrete. The lovers of outdoor running feel better when they run in the streets and when they are exposed to natural setbacks (rain, wind, sun, irregular floor). On the other hand, the ones that prefer running on the treadmill do it because they feel a different type of comfort and safety and because, by doing so, they are given different information that allows them to calculate distance, speed, pulse, the average of calories they want to spend, etc. However, it is also possible to run outdoors using devices that control time, distance, etc.

Advantages of running outdoors?

Running outdoors requires little or no equipment, gives you energy, improves you focus, humor, health (your lungs get more fresh air, you absorb vitamin D through the sun), breaks monotony because you can always chose other paths, requires more physical effort, you spend more calories and it’s the best low cost option.

Advantages of running on the treadmill?

You are not limited to climate conditions (temperature flows, rain, wind, sun), you are safe at any time of the day, the surface doesn’t wear out the joints as much. If you are bored or if any physical problem comes up, you may stop your routine at any time.

In a 30 minute run you burn, on average, 270 calories.

Static Bike vs Road Bike

When it comes to muscles, the lower limbs are exercised equally. However, in a spinning class there are, obviously, fewer breaks, so your workout is more concentrated during that short amount of time and it will only be intense if the trainer prepares a heavy workout. Usually, outdoor exercises will be more intense because you have to adapt to the unexpected, keep the balance, stop, make turns, etc. When you pedal for 30 minutes on a static bike, you will be burning the same amount of calories than you would in about 45/60 minutes on top of a road bike.

Advantages of riding a bike outside?

Being able to go through different paths, fighting stress outdoors, breathing fresh air, providing a mental well-being and being in contact with Nature. It is more fun, less boring and by taking more breaks, you put a lower load on the knees’ joints.

Advantages of pedaling at the gym?

Requires minimum technique and a more intense work, burns more calories in a shorter period of time, avoids safety problems (traffic, irregular floor, stones, mud, etc).

By pedaling for 30 minutes at a moderate speed, you will be burning about 232 calories.

READ ALSO: HIIT: A super effective cardio workout to help you lose fat

Swimming in the sea vs. Swimming in the pool

Although it’s almost identic, the breathing changes and you work different muscle groups, accordingly to where you swim. At the pool, you will be demanding more of your triceps, shoulders and the backbone. At the sea, the lower back, neck and the psoas (muscle that links the thigh to the leg) will be the areas you will have to work out the most. As for breathing, when you swim at the pool you should breathe to the sides. At the sea, you can alternate between three lateral breaths and one frontal breath to correct the direction. Due to the sea’s irregular wave movement, the exercise should be gradual so you don’t spend your energies right away. Start by swimming in a relaxed position and, while maintaining the same rhythm, introduce long strokes. When you feel tired, do 20 strokes on your back. Besides resting, you will be maintaining cardiac rhythm and you will be working other muscles.

Advantages of swimming in the sea?

Works more muscle groups.

Advantages of swimming in the pool?

You burn more calories, the water temperature is warmer, you may stop to rest anytime you are feeling tired.

Step vs Walking up the stairs

Going up and down the stairs is a good aerobic exercise, because the arms follow the movement and you have to lift the whole leg to go to the next step. By working the whole body, you will be burning more calories. You should pay attention when you go down so you don’t put a lot of pressure in the quad tendon.

Advantages of the Step?

It’s safe, practical and fun.

Advantages of going up the stairs?

You are not restricted to the Step, so you can do it every time when you see stairs. Works the glutes and increases muscle mass because it makes you lift the legs and burn more calories.

On average, you lose 10 calories per minut when you use the stairs.

Elliptical vs. Roller Skates

The movement may not be identical, but these two activities will make you feel like you’re sliding and will work the lower muscle groups.

Advantages of the elliptical?

It’s practical, safe, you can use it regardless of your level of physical preparation and at any time of the year; you will burn more calories.

Advantages of roller skating?

Fights sedentary lifestyles and you can do it anywhere you want, because, besides being fun, you end up noticing the time going by and you forget you are exercising.

Whichever method you choose, what really matters is your motivation. If you start setting goals with motivation levels at 100%, you’re on the right path. If you can stay like this for an undetermined period of time and you start taking that posture in life, then a great part of your job is already done for you and you will achieve excellent results.


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Joel Stonington, The best indoor sports for outdoor athletes, 7th of March 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version

Lily Ziegler, Outdoor or Indoor sports: which is better?, 26th of January 2011, translation and adaptation of the original version

Miguel Santos, A chamada da natureza – As principais diferenças entre desportos indoor e outdoor, November 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version

Monette Williams, Outdoor Vs. Indoor Exercise: The Benefits of the Great Outdoors, 26th of May 2010, translation and adaptation of the original version


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