When you’re getting physical exercise, take it outside!

Denise Franer RN

When winter winds are howling and the snow is falling, gyms offer the ideal climate controlled space for working out. Emerging science suggests, however, that exercising outdoors offers benefits that cannot be duplicated on a treadmill, track or recumbent bike.

For one thing, a person strides differently when exercising outdoors. The ankle gets flexed more when exercising outside and at least occasionally, one has to run or walk downhill, which stresses the muscles quite differently than when walking on a flat level surface. Outdoor exercise tends to be more strenuous than indoor workouts.

Studies comparing treadmill workouts to running outside showed that treadmill users expended less energy in covering the same distance than outdoor runners. The reason for the decreased energy expenditure is that there is little to no wind drag or changes in terrain for the treadmill user. Studies on cycling showed the same results. Workouts in the outdoors also increased the number of calories expended.

Several studies showed that volunteers who walked similar distances both indoors and outdoors reported greater enjoyment in performing the activity outdoors and scored higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem and decreased levels of tension, depression and fatigue.

A study on older adults showed that those who exercised outdoors exercised longer and more often than those who worked out indoors.

Despite the boom in the fitness industry, no changes have been seen in national fitness levels: gyms are not the total answer.

Clermont County has many places and spaces for outdoor fitness activities and fun. Try walking the trails at Sycamore Park in Batavia or at the Crooked Run Nature Preserve adjacent to the Chilo Lock 34 Park. You can cycle on the Williamsburg to Batavia Hike/Bike Trail. Spencer Shank Park in Amelia offers a walking trail, basketball courts, playground and Frisbee golf course. O’Bannon Creek Nature Trail is a scenic walking trail along the O’Bannon Creek on the grounds of Goshen High School. Washington Township Park is a 186 acre park with a playground, walking trail, fishing ponds, soccer fields and basketball court. These are but a few of the more than 60 places in Clermont County where it is easy and fun to be active outdoors.

To learn more about the spaces in your community where you can be active outdoors, contact the Clermont Coalition for Activity and Nutrition at (513) 732-7499 for a copy of Places and Spaces: Clermont County’s Guide to Local Parks, Nutrition Programs for Free or Low Cost Activity and Nutrition.

As the lead agency for Clermont CAN, the Clermont County General Health District supports local activities that encourage wellness through increased activity and better nutrition.

To learn more about Clermont CAN, visit

Denise Franer RN is the Program Coordinator for Clermont CAN, Clermont County General Health District.