Recently I was talking with some students about how I still have my habit of taking walks at night. They saw a somewhat large guy walking around at night in Lexington and were wondering if that was me. Turns out that it was, and I sound real shady when I write it like that. So I then gave them some of my reasons for why I like to do cardio outdoors. Let me start by saying that if you like running on a treadmill or otherwise go for it. If you can’t handle cold or hot weather for one reason or another (like Raynaud’s disease) then please stay in climate controlled areas, but if you can go outside I thoroughly suggest you do so and here are some reasons why:
Pick a direction and walk
When you do cardio outside and either run a loop or simply head off in one direction, you have to come back at some point. Yes, this is a simple idea, but if you are running on a treadmill you can simply stop at any moment and you are done. If you run two miles from your home you then have to travel back two miles to get home. This is an easy way to force yourself to get more volume in since you have to get home somehow. That being said if you apply this logic with things like biking, make sure that you pack a spare tube and other parts in case you get a flat. Back when I skated I learned how far I could walk in socks when I blew out wheels and had no way to change them.
Change up your stimuli
Every time that you head out you have a huge number of choices of which way to head. By switching up your route you will get to see different places and really learn the lay of the land where you live. Thanks to all of my walking around my neighborhood and the adjacent ones I have found some neat homes, parks, and even a 300+ year old oak tree. If you ever come out to visit me and the wife I will happily take you on the gazebo loop, meditation pond trek, or the mod house hike. All of which are in different places nearby and are very neat to see. If you run indoors you might just only see the wall in front of you, or the same screen showing whatever media you already see. You get to feel the weather, to really know what it is like to be hot in the summer, to walk in the rain, to feel the snow under your shoes and feel the bite of winter. What you also get while you are out and about is not only the sounds of your environment which is neat, but you get the smell. You get to smell the seasons as they progress, smelling the life and pollen in the spring, smelling the barbecue in the summer, the leaves as they turn in the fall, and finally the smell of smoke from fires in the winter. Bonus you get to figure out which of your neighbors have a smoker and or have hobbies like working on sweet muscle cars or are in to wood working. You don’t get that if you just stay indoors.
Meet your neighbors (or at least they know who you are)
One thing that I enjoy is that I get to meet my neighbors while walking around the neighborhood. This is much easier if you have a dog with you. I’m to the point now that when I walk around I will meet people and they say they recognize me since they see me walking around. This has happened more than once, so it is safe to say that people around the neighborhood know who I am from their homes even if I have no clue who they are. This has also led to the wife and I making friends that we walk our dogs with and enjoy chatting with. Building a sense of community and knowing the people that live around you is an important component to have in your life (or at least it is in mine).
Overall doing cardio outside gives you a reason to do more work, gets you to experience different stimuli, and helps you feel like you are a bigger part of your community. Obviously if you are running, biking, or otherwise going at high speed you might not strike up a conversation with other people, but you can still get to the take advantage of the other points. So do yourself a favor and get outside and experience the area that you live in.