Once warmer weather rolls around, chances are youll find writer Judy Waytiuk, 54, swimming in her backyard pool or riding her bike along the tree-lined streets near her house. She rarely goes a day without exercising, and especially treasures the summers she spends swimming laps at dusk after a day devoted to juggling phone calls, emails, and assignments.
But Waytiuks love affair with exercise actually began in the winter—during the final months of 1995, to be exact. Shed finally begun, with the help of an antidepressant, to climb out of the depression shed fallen into the previous spring. In a moment of inspiration, she strapped on her long-neglected cross-country skis. Out on the crisp, clean snow, her mood lifted. “Theres absolutely nothing as beautiful as skiing along in the quiet of a wonderfully groomed park while the sky starts staining pink from the setting sun,” she says.
Soon, Waytiuk was skiing four times a week for an hour and a half at a time. When the snow melted and the seasons changed, she simply went with the flow, relocating her workouts to the pool and dusting off her old, neglected road bike.
While Waytiuks workouts are plenty vigorous, she says shes too busy enjoying the scenery to notice all of the effort shes exerting. “I love the air, the changing landscape, and the peacefulness of it all,” she says. “Its glorious.”
The take-away: Outdoor workouts might be more palatable for obvious reasons (like scenery and fresh air). But the real news is that you may actually burn more calories outside than you would indoors. Utah State University researchers recently studied a group of men and women as they ran on treadmills, around an indoor track, and along a scenic outdoor route. The participants reported feeling more revitalized and tranquil—and notably less exhausted—when exercising outside than they did indoors. Plus, they ran almost 15% faster outside than they did on the treadmill. However, they felt they were exerting themselves less, says Rick LaCaille, PhD, a psychologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
Make it work for you: Try running in your neighborhood park or cycling on your local bike path. On the weekend, reward yourself by seeking out the best scenery (even if you have to drive a bit to get there). If you cant go outside, at least choose the treadmill closest to a window, surround your home stationary bike with gorgeous plants, pop a scenic movie into the DVD player, or tune in to the Travel Channel—anything to keep your mind off what your bodys doing.