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Gym vs Outdoor Fitness Training: The Pros and Cons

Jan 3, 2010

Outdoor fitness training allows you to kill a few birds with one stone. You get to enjoy the outdoors, explore a new place and fill up your workout schedule all at once. Exercising outside adds interest to the workout experience at little to no cost, but does have some obstacles. Read below for suggestions on when to turn to nature.

Outdoor Fitness Training

The list of exercises you can do outside is a bit shorter than what you could accomplish at a typical fitness club, but can still prove immensely beneficial. Look to speed walking, running, jogging, swimming, surfing, bicycling and rock climbing. Many runners prefer the outdoors to a treadmill, as the constantly changing backdrop fights boredom and offers hillier courses. Most outdoor exercise forms are completely free, so not working out because you don't have the money for a gym membership is no longer a viable excuse. If you're new in town, a long running route gives you a chance to really explore and understand your surroundings. Rock climbing gives an intense upper body workout you can't find in most gyms, and allows you to visit a place you typically would not. Swimming and surfing also work your core and arms and immerse you in the height of summertime or warm weather activities.

As with any activity involving the great outdoors, you're limited by the seasons and extremities if you defer to outdoor fitness training. Few are willing to run in single-digit degree weather, so you may have to look to the gym during the winter months. The limited daylight in these months also prevents people from outdoor workouts, as it's often been dark for hours by the time many get home from work. Outdoor fitness activities like swimming and surfing are typically out of the question for year-round workouts, unless you're living in a year-round summer type of place, so you'll have to find other activities you can enjoy.

Gym Fitness Training

Most gyms offer the opportunity to do all the forms of exercise listed above and more. The benefits of many health clubs lie in the abundance of fitness classes and tailored training they offer, from yoga and pilates, to strength classes and myriad cardio dance combo sessions. Often you can do a few of these forms of exercise in a single visit to the gym. If you're easily bored with one type of cardio, you can switch from the treadmill to the elliptical machine to a recumbent bike within a single workout session. The bulk of most weightlifting equipment is found in the gym, as well, so those looking to build muscle might be more drawn to the indoor brand of exercise. 

The gym is lacking the fresh air and varied background that many look to in outdoor workouts, but it does offer the ability to exercise when the environment is not cooperating. It provides a safe alternative to exercising in the dark, and if you can't tolerate cold or rain. The gym also carries a heavier, more regular price tag than outdoor fitness training, so you'll have to plan your budget accordingly. 

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