Why You Should Consider Exercising at an Outdoor Gym

By Charlotte Wells – April 1, 2023

While there are plenty of ways for people to freely exercise outdoors, fully equipped outdoor gyms are still relatively uncommon.

Exercising outdoors gained prominence and popularity over the last few years, especially since COVID. As more people began moving outside and away from traditional gym setups, the fitness industry had to adapt to these changing dynamics in order to stay afloat. Many gyms around the country met this new demand for outdoor spaces by expanding their services to include either outdoor fitness classes or a designated open fitness area, complete with equipment like free weights, squat racks and cardio machines.

This new phenomenon comes with its perks, as exercising outdoors is commonly acknowledged to have several added benefits to the already long list of general benefits of physical exercise. According to Piedmont Healthcare, outdoor exercise is a natural antidepressant because exposure to sunlight increases serotonin, which helps ward off anxiety and depression. This also helps people to approach exercise with a better attitude.

Hannah Friggel has been professionally working in the fitness industry since 2017 and is the founder of FrigNFit in Austin. She says she has a more positive attitude toward fitness when exercising outdoors. 

“The outdoors gives you great boosts in vitamin D from the sun,” Friggel says. “Plus, there are particles from plants and the fresh air that give you a mood boost, as well.” 

These natural mood boosters that come with being outside help make workouts more enjoyable and rewarding. Friggel, who tries to exercise outdoors as much as possible, says her good mood helps her get a better overall workout while exercising outside. This is a common sentiment among outdoor gym goers, another indirect benefit of outdoor gyms. 

People working out outdoors.

People who work out outside may also be more inclined to work out more consistently, as it offers mental relief and can be a more enjoyable activity when surrounded by nature. A study published on PubMed reports that participants who exercised outside experienced greater enjoyment and stated a higher intent to repeat the activity than those who exercised indoors. 

Steven Bell, who has been an active member of the fitness community for around six years, says he prefers outdoor fitness because he finds it more fun and feels more motivated. 

“New environments give me new energy,” Bell says. 

However, because outdoor gyms have only recently increased in popularity, there’s not as much of an established community surrounding them as there is with indoor gyms. It can be harder to feel like you’re part of a fitness community when exercising outdoors, which, for some, is a deterrent. 

“I mainly do indoor (exercise) because of the pre-existing community,” Bell says. 

Even for those exercising independently and not in a class, gyms can offer a sense of camaraderie as gymgoers share the space and equipment and often share similar interests and goals. 

This sense of community can be harder to replicate in outdoor fitness areas, especially if they’re not designed to accommodate extensive workout sessions. However, fully equipped outdoor gyms can offer the same community-centered atmosphere and allow people to enjoy the same type of workout they would at an indoor gym.   

In a place with warm temperatures year-round like Austin, the opportunity to exercise at outdoor gyms is much more readily available. This makes it easier for gym goers to enjoy the benefits of outdoor exercise while still getting in a good workout. 

Choosing to exercise at an outdoor gym may seem like a small change, but it can offer a surprising number of small benefits that add up to significantly improving overall physical and mental health. Not only does it help boost your energy levels and mood for the rest of the day, exercising outdoors can also allow you to have more fun and make exercising a more enjoyable activity. So next time you sign up for a gym membership, it might be time to consider visiting an outdoor gym!


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