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Sweating Green

Outdoor workouts benefit your body and soul

By P. J. Ellison

Engineer and former Montrealer Paul Goligoski says the best thing about moving to Santa Barbara, California is exercising outdoors. “The climate is ideal and the scenery distracts so that I forget how hard I’m working on the bike trail.”

Paul’s sister, Clara, is also an avid cyclist but insists she’ll never leave Montreal. “I hate winter, but I fight back by biking 12 months a year.” With the proper attire, Clara says she rarely misses a day due to snow. The siblings agree, going green and getting outdoors is the key to getting the most out of their workouts.

What they feel innately is actually a scientific phenomenon that is being studied all over the world. “Green exercise represents a low-cost way to lower stress and recharge the mental batteries,” says Alan Logan, a naturopath and author of the book Your Brain, On Nature. “In nature, the involuntary focus takes over,” says Mr. Logan. “The inhibitory centres of the brain can take a break and the effort required to block out distractions is minimized.” 

Both the Goligoskis and Mr. Logan sum up some of the benefits of moving your workout from an indoor gym to open air.

  • You’ll push yourself more outdoors. There’s always another hill to climb, another kilometre to run, one more landmark to get to. Your home gym has walls.
  • Burn more calories. Wind resistance, hills, going that extra mile - figuratively and literally - boost the burn.
  • The scenery and fresh air make the workout feel easier if not more enjoyable.
  • Multi-benefits. Not only are you getting exercise, you’re getting fresh air, sun on your skin, and fleeing stressors at the office.
  • Even if you go to the same park for every workout, trees change, smells and sounds change, and different people enter or exit the scene. It’s like re-watching a play but the actors and setting change every time.
  • Energy boosts. Research shows that even moderate exercise outdoors lifts energy levels as much as your daily dose of coffee.
  • Socialize. Outdoor workouts are a great way to meet new people, especially if you spend a quarter of your life in an office.
  • Smart, fit, and frugal. Taking your exercise regimen outside costs you the price of a new pair of jogging shoes. Even a good bike will last you years.

Island green spaces
Okay, it’s not California, but the island of Montreal and its surroundings are home to plenty of spots to enjoy nature while working out. And there’s always our city’s green heart, Mont-Royal Park.

Southwest: Angrignon Park & Lachine Canal
South: St-Helen’s Island and Île Notre-Dame
North: Bois-de-Liesse in the north & Parc-nature du Bois-d’Anjou; Ruisseau-de Montigny Nature Park
West: Bois-de-la-Roche Agricultural Park and Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques
East: Parc Léon-Provancher (attached to the Botanical Gardens makes a great swath of green); at the eastern tip lies twin parks Parc-Nature Pointe-aux-Prairies & Parc de la Coulée-Grou, both bordered by Rivière des Prairies and the St. Lawrence
South shore: Réserve naturelle du boisé du Tremblay

 

Spring 2019, Vol 11 N°2

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