Picture this: You're sitting outside on a perfect summer afternoon. You're surrounded by trees, and the sun is hitting your face at just the right angle. If this image fills you with joy, there's a good reason why—research has shown, time and time again, nature makes us happy. Even spending just 15 minutes outside can spike happiness.
From an exercise perspective, there's no question that taking your workout outdoors is a good idea. Exercise improves happiness, and nature improves happiness, so the combination seems like a recipe for euphoria. But too often, people pass up the opportunity to move and breathe outside in favor of the treadmill or elliptical.
If this sounds like you—and if you tend to dread the gym—let the latest research incentivize you to move your exercise routine outside. A new study conducted in Austria and published in PLOS ONE found that when people exercise on a treadmill they're happier than when they're sitting inside, which makes sense. But the happiest people of all are the ones who go hiking, even when that hike is more strenuous than the treadmill walk.
For some, the key to exercising regularly is short, effective bursts of exercise. But if that doesn't work for you, the solution may be as simple as a long walk outside. Let's take a closer look.