Story by Jen Edwards + Photography by Mike Ritterbeck
The positive effects of exercise on health and well-being are widely known, but did you know there are specific mental and physical benefits to exercising outside vs. inside? Before you hop on the treadmill to complete your usual indoor routine, consider heading to one the Lowcountry’s scenic parks or beaches for your workout. Here are five reasons why:
1. You’ll increase your endurance. Time flies when you’re having fun, or when you’re enjoying the Lowcountry sights and sounds around you. Chances are you’ll tend to exercise for longer with the distractions of dolphins swimming in front you, island sunsets painting colors in the sky or white egrets soaring by. Longer workouts will translate into better endurance.
2. You’ll reduce stress. Many people spend their days indoors, staring at screens. Getting outside to sweat is an opportunity to unplug from technology like texts, emails and phone calls, and be alone with your thoughts and nature. Your outdoor workout is a perfect time for reflection and relaxation.
3. You’ll burn more calories. Your body gets used to the workouts you do very quickly. When that happens, you stop seeing results and plateau. The ever-changing Lowcountry landscape keeps your body guessing as you run, power walk or bike through sand, grass and trails. Wind resistance can also add an extra element of challenge. How many times have you ridden your bike on the beach in one direction, only to turn around to head back, against the wind?
4. You’ll get a burst of Vitamin D. Of course, too much sun on unprotected skin is not healthy. Some vitamin D is important for your health and will help to keep your bones strong, decrease your risk of autoimmune diseases and heart disease, and help prevent depression.
5. You can exercise anytime you want. The outdoors is always open and available to host your next workout. There are no gym hours or class times to worry about. You can also go on vacation and know you’ll be able to stay fit anywhere, at any hour. That convenience makes you more likely to stick to a regular routine.
The Workout: 10-minute Shelter Cove circuit
Located mid-island, overlooking Broad Creek, Shelter Cove is an outdoor park that’s perfect for a quick circuit to tone you from head to toe. Perform each of these drills for 60 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat the circuit for a 10-minute workout.