Green Exercise Movement

The Green Exercise Movement Is Taking Cities by Storm—But What Is It?

When I first heard the term the Green Exercise Movement, I thought it must refer to sustainable exercise, as in using reusable water bottles or cups instead of paper cups at a race. While this is an interesting point, it has nothing to do with green exercise.

Green exercise is simply outdoor exercise.

Moving, doing physical activities, and exercising in nature, away from four-walled spaces, are all types of green exercise. This doesn’t mean you have to be rock climbing in Yosemite or trail running in the Rocky Mountains. You just have to get to a park or even just your backyard.

Many people who live in urban environments don’t realize there are, in fact, green spaces in their cities, and people do, in fact, work out together at such parks and landmarks. The best way to exercise with a group outside, without paying anything, is to show up to a November Project workout. In 40 cities around the world, this green exercise movement is making waves, changing the lives of couch potatoes and former Olympians alike.

The coolest thing about the Green Exercise Movement is that it’s been shown to deliver more health benefits than indoor exercise. Awesome, right? But how?

Exercising Outside Is Better For You

Just being in nature, away from electronics and the stress of work environments has physiological benefits. Then, add in exercising and you’re onto something really special.

This is far from revolutionary. Recall playing outside as a kid? Playing recreational soccer in elementary school and playing tag on the playground? Simply being a playful kid comprises green exercise.

Yet, as we transition into adulthood, playing and exercise lose their connectedness and many of us see exercise as a duty to be performed inside, at a gym. This paradigm has taken over urban environments where people lament that the only way to exercise is to get to the gym, resulting in expensive gym memberships often going unused. For many of us, the appeal of running on a treadmill is unsurprisingly not appealing!

So what are the actual benefits of exercising outdoors versus exercising indoors? According to a study recently published in the American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal, the following are all benefits of outdoor exercise:

  1. Improved mood and self-esteem.
  2. Reduced feelings of tension, anger, and depression.
  3. Higher likelihood of continuing and maintaining your exercise routine and goals due to increased enjoyment of exercising outside.
  4. Lower perceived exertion than indoor exercise, i.e. you think your workout is easier! This can result in working out harder outside than you normally would inside at the same perceived exertion level.
  5. It’s free!

So what are you waiting for? Look up a November Project group in your city today! Be warned of the main rule: just show up! What will you get in return (in addition to the benefits of outdoor exercise)? A kick-ass workout, a renewed appreciation for your city, new friends, excitement, and a full wallet.

On a recent trip to Washington D.C., I went to a Friday morning workout. Begrudgingly, I woke up to my alarm at 5:45 am. I jogged to the park, which I had to look up the night before, and surprise, surprise, I loved every minute of it. I never would have thought this random park in Washington D.C. would be worth a second look. I got in a great run way earlier than I normally would have, in addition to seeing friends from college and making new friends, all during a 45-minute workout. And I had no qualms about going from a financial perspective. Working out has never been simpler and more appealing. I love green exercise.

How do you normally work out? Do you perceive going to the gym as a chore? Do you want more workout buddies? Do you go to your local parks, or wish you knew your city better?

About the Author

Clare Gallagher is an ultrarunner for The North Face and travels extensively for races and philanthropic work. She studied coral ecology at Princeton University where she also ran cross country and track. Clare has taught English in Thailand where she started a non-profit environmental stewardship program, she has scribed in emergency rooms across Denver, and she writes regularly for various running blogs.

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