There’s no doubt that running is great for your health, but if you’re considering the pros and cons of joining the gym, you should first explore the many benefits of outdoor running.

You probably already know that running, in general, can improve your overall health, especially your cardiovascular health. Running can also help you lose weight, get fit, and feel good. Just the act of running can boost your immune system and improve lung function. It's amazing, really.

But if you’re looking to up the ante, consider taking your stride outside.

Here are 6 benefits outdoor running gives you.

Work different muscles

When you run on a treadmill, even on a hilly setting, you're not getting the full advantage that you'd get with the natural terrain. As your foot lands on the pavement, dirt or gravel, you're not always landing on a completely level spot. And so your body will naturally engage all the right muscles to keep your body upright – again and again. Since this is in addition to the same running you'd be doing on a treadmill, it's just an added bonus.

Potentially burn more calories

If you’re running a mile in 6-minutes or better, you’ll burn a substantial amount more calories outside than you would on a treadmill, possibly as much as 10 percent more (source). If you’re running slower, there are a few variables to consider. First, a treadmill is designed to help pull your feet back in a run, which could save a bit of energy. But the amount you’ll save depends on the efficiency of the belt. Also, if you’re running on a particularly windy day, you’ll have much more resistance and can burn a lot more calories. If you have a treadmill at home, try a two-mile run on the treadmill versus outside. You can use something like a Fitbit or Apple Watch to track your calorie burn. It may not be 100 percent accurate, but it’s a good gauge.

Experience a type of grounding

The term “grounding” refers to the practice of standing or walking barefoot on the earth’s natural surface. And there are many barefoot runners who run without shoes for this precise reason. This principle is based on the idea that energy transfers to your body from the ground when you make contact with the earth’s electrons.
But you don’t have to stretch your imagination very far to realize that this can be rough on your feet and body. So if barefoot running isn’t for you, it’s okay.
You can still experience a connection with nature even if your bare feet aren’t literally connecting with the ground. Just being outside in nature can help you feel more connected.

Run anywhere at any time

If you think about it, running outside is very freeing. You don’t have to wait until the gym opens and you never have to skip a day when you’re traveling. Even if you’re on a road trip, you can saddle up to a trail and go for a run virtually anywhere. Even many rest stops are connected to trails. All you need is a comfortable pair of sneakers and reasonably well-suited attire (you’re not going to be running in a suit).

You’ll exercise longer

Whenever we begin exercising, we always set goals, don’t we? You hop on the treadmill and set the timer for 20 minutes. But what happens when you’re feeling fatigued at 10? Well, you can easily adjust the program and start your cool down phase much earlier. On a run, this isn’t so easy. Yes, you can easily slow your pace, but once you set out, you have no choice but to complete the loop you’ve started. So even if you end up walking half the way, you’ll probably get more exercise than if you were on a treadmill. Oftentimes, when we’re left to our own devices, we’ll choose the easy way out. Running outside doesn’t give you as much of an out.

You’ll get some sun

Are you among those of us who sit in an office all day? We take an occasional break for lunch and soak up the sun as we walk to the café, but that’s about the sad extent of it.
Actually, as humans, we’re not really meant to live this way. Our bodies need the sun to thrive, and that’s evidenced by our plummeting vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because it’s most readily available from the sun’s rays. The body coverts UVB rays into vitamin D. You can also get this vitamin from some foods, but they are limited. Researchers are finding that vitamin D has many roles and may act more like a hormone than a vitamin. But if you're deficient in D, you can expect a weakened immune system, poor bone density, hair loss, and a myriad of other problems.

But with all the benefits of running outdoors, there are some caveats. For one, it’s definitely not as safe as running on a treadmill, especially if you’re running along a busy road. Fortunately, you can take some basic safety precautions to avoid needing a personal injury attorney. Wear reflective clothing (even in the day) and avoid running near the street if you can help it.

Most runners have a preference. Do you enjoy running outside or indoors?

Author's Bio: 

Misty Jhones