Most colleges and universities have guidelines for the number of square feet per student they should allocate for indoor recreation or health training. As the number of enrollments increases and indoor spaces become scarce, campus leisure departments are using outdoor spaces to provide health education and fitness training.
Let’s take a look at how adding outdoor fitness areas to your indoor training area can increase your capacity and further improve the quality of life for students.
1. Vitamin D – The sun’s gift to your health
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time student of the day is indoors. Spending so much time indoors can lead to vitamin D deficiency.
When students are vitamin D deficient, they experience weakened immune systems, increased levels of inflammation, depressed mood, and poor bone health. The good news is that spending just 10 to 30 minutes outdoors two to three days a week can help your body maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.
2. Outdoor sports challenge the body and mind in new ways
When you exercise outdoors, you force changes in the environment and terrain to adapt to your surroundings. You work in new and different ways to keep your movements moving and focus on the exercise.
ADDITIONAL CREDIT: Make sure your outdoor fitness strategy takes into account all five of the outdoor elements of a well-rounded workout with a variety of options.
For example, running on a treadmill is a somewhat repetitive exercise with little variety or variety. In comparison, running outdoors leads to variability in terrain, altitude, and effort required. This kind of variation in your workout can make it more beneficial and decrease the likelihood of adaptation by different muscle groups.
3. Outdoor fitness areas enable a social experience
Colleges that conduct outdoor training and workouts report an increase in peer participation. Students like to meet on campus for training or jogging. It promotes the social interaction that is essential for improving the quality of life.
Additionally, there is an added level of responsibility that comes with exercising outdoors. If you have a fixed date to meet up with your friends for a bootcamp class or group run, the chances are you will attend.
Virginia Tech created an outdoor fitness park where students can gather for group exercise classes, small group training, and special events. Located in the middle of the main dormitories, it is right on the doorstep of more than 4,000 students.
4. Exercise is more fun and fun
College can be tough, both physically and emotionally, for students. Being outdoors is associated with a positive mood and less anxiety – as is exercise. If you combine both, you increase the joy of training by orders of magnitude.
At the College of William & Mary, students encourage other students to spend time outdoors during exam time. They hand out nature maps and tips for the stressful everyday study life. At UC Davis, students are encouraged to spend time outdoors as part of a NatureRx course.
These efforts to encourage students to be active outdoors have positive results such as:
- Improving cognitive concentration and increasing attention span
- Elevated mood and improved general feeling of happiness
- Reduced physical and mental stress
- Increased social connections and improved quality of social relationships
- Improving overall physical health and mental wellbeing
5. Exercise outdoors produces results quickly
One of the most extraordinary things about outdoor sports is how quickly students see results, both physically and emotionally. In just 120 minutes a week, the cognitive and emotional benefits begin to accumulate. Students see improvements in their physical health over a similar timeframe.
It can be easy for students to add practice time to their schedule. A 30-minute outdoor fitness training session every weekday is sufficient, or a few jogs through the week with a long hike on the weekend will work. The important thing is to make active time outdoors a habit and priority.
Jon Walker is Product Manager at GameTime who specializes in developing outdoor fitness products for people of all abilities and fitness levels. He works with park experts and recreational leaders on campus to create fitness rooms that improve health and wellbeing, and improve the quality of life. You can reach Jon at [email protected].
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