Let’s say you start running and you’d like to log 5 miles for the day. You have the choice to run outside on a path that winds around a lake or head to the gym and get busy on a treadmill. Which one will give you a better, longer workout? We’d bank on the outdoor run each and every time due to the simple fact that you will get more exercise.

Why? It’s so easy to hop off the treadmill and go home. Outdoors, however, you still have to get yourself back to your starting point by your own power, even if you slow to a walk. In the end, this serves as a good mental trick you can use to help you break down your goal into smaller parts. Commit yourself to the halfway or turnaround point; once there, you can focus on finishing what you’ve begun.

Staying away from the gym just might be a sure-fire way to get in shape. Here are a few more advantages to consider:

Save money on gym memberships: It goes without saying that jogging around the lake is free while a running on the gym’s treadmill or elliptical machine costs money. However, if you can afford it, or if your health insurance already covers the cost, then a gym membership offers a great backup plan when the weather turns foul. Otherwise, look into seasonal memberships and punch cards to see you through the worst weather.

Vitamin D: You’ve heard a lot of talk about the benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement — doing so can prevent cancer, lower the risk of osteoporosis, boost your immune system and so on. As this article from Harvard points out, it is true that Vitamin D is essential to health and it’s difficult to obtain through your food. It’s not known, however, if supplements can deliver the D goods just as well as the sun. You can get all the D your body needs for one week just by exposing your skin to the sun for 15 minutes. Of course, be sure you are slathering on plenty of sunscreen for the remainder of the time.

More thorough, more efficient: Outside, even subtle changes to the terrain can help build leg and ankle muscles while you’re running or biking. And as much as you hate biking into the wind, think of that pushback as a great workout companion, one that helps you exert more energy and build endurance.

New places, new experiences, new friends: Have you ever met anyone who wanted to ride a stationary bicycle in all 50 states? We haven’t either. We do all know of someone, however, who would love to hike or bike all over the U.S.A.  Isn’t that smart? It’s ambitious, it makes you healthier and you can travel the country. Setting your sites on a scaled-back version of that plan can also be powerfully effective and rewarding. Get a map and check out some National Parks, state parks and regional trails, or destination spas! Then craft your own bucket list.

It’s just happier: This fact is very plain and simple: people who exercised outdoors in a natural setting came away with higher levels of satisfaction than those who had a similar workout indoors, according to a study. The outdoor exercisers also reported a greater sense of well-being and had stronger intentions to repeat the activity.

Experience for yourself the difference that exerting yourself outdoors can make in regard to your strength, endurance and state of mind. Not sure when to start?  Looking for a way to get a healthier activity in a new setting? At New Life Hiking Spa, we offer an affordable, all-inclusive package that includes three different levels of daily hikes and treks to challenge your body and renew your spirit with amazing scenery.   Plus, you get other fitness activities, healthy food and massages all included in your stay so you don’t need to think about anything else as you begin a new habit of exercising outdoors.