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The best place to exercise



Calah Alexander - published on 06/11/18

It's about your microbiome as much as your muscles ...

One of the unique things about being a trainer with Camp Gladiator is that we don’t have fancy gyms — in fact, we have camp in parks and parking lots. One of our catchphrases is “take it outside,” and we totally do.

Not everyone loves exercising outside, though. It’s probably the most common objection I hear from people who are just learning about us. “It’s too hot outside,” they’ll say — and they’re not necessarily wrong. It’s Texas, and it’s summertime, so yes it’s hot. But it’s also healthy.

Everyone knows that exercising is great for you, but not everyone knows that exercising outside is even better for you. Shape recently explained why both exercise and the great outdoors are vital if you want to stay healthy, and it’s all about the microbiome:

The influence of exercise on your microbiome can even help keep your weight under control. Beyond torching calories, physical activity appears to encourage the growth of a specific type of bacteria that is linked to leanness while suppressing other sorts that are associated with obesity, adds Evans. In American Gut Project research, daily exercisers had the most diverse bacteria of all …

Sign up for a mud run or take up hiking, gardening, or any other activity that requires you to get dirty. “When you play with soil, beneficial bacteria in the environment repopulate the community of bacteria on your skin,” says gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan, M.D., the author of The Microbiome Solution

Without regular contact with these natural microorganisms, your own bugs can fall out of balance, resulting in a weaker immune system and even a slower metabolism. 

I knew that exercising outside was somehow better, because I can feel a drastic difference between the way I feel after a Camp Gladiator workout and the way I feel after an hour at the gym. After the gym, I feel tired and sore and like I accomplished something… but I don’t feel happy, and I don’t feel like I enjoyed it all that much.

CG is totally different. After a CG workout — particularly one in the bright Texas sun — I feel sweaty, happy, and energized. I’m usually in a far better mood afterward than I was before, so much so that when I get cranky now, my kids have started saying “Time to go to camp, Mommy. You’ll feel better after you go to camp.”

And they’re right. I always feel better after camp. I’m sure some of it is mental, and the double whammy of social interaction and exercise is a powerful force. But I absolutely believe that getting dirty every day has had some major effects on my immune system. I still get sick, but not as often — and I don’t get nearly as sick. Instead of a cold lingering for a week or more, I can usually kick it in a day or two. As long as I don’t skip a workout.

So the next time someone tells me that they don’t like sweating or being outside, I’ll make sure to tell them about all the bacterial diversity they’re missing out on inside their sterilized gym. In the meantime, if it’s been a while since you worked up a sweat and got a little grimy at the same time, what are you waiting for? Take it outside!


Read more:
How exercise improves your gut health

Health and Wellness
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