To elevate your exercise routine, head outside

Walking or hiking in a natural area may benefit your heart more than working out indoors.

Published: June, 2019

For many people, summer's long days and warm weather make it a great time to exercise outdoors. And that just might be a great way to boost the rewards from your workout, says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

"When you're moving your body, your heart, lungs, and muscles don't know or care where you are. But your mind does," says Dr. Phillips. And if you're exercising outdoors in a beautiful natural setting, you might be tempted to go a little farther than if you set out to walk for just 30 minutes around your neighborhood, he notes. "Some people say it's hard to rack up 7,000 steps a day walking a familiar route. But they often find they can go twice as far on a hike, especially if there's a nice vista at the destination," he says. If you choose a trail that includes some hills, which will force your heart to work harder, that will also increase your fitness.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »