Is it Better to Train Outdoors vs. the Gym?   

Is it Better to Train Outdoors vs. the Gym?

Woman doing a plank on a yoga mat outside in the park, with weights and a jump rope nearby.

August 25, 2023

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Oscar Vazquez, M.D.,

When it comes to the question of whether it is better to train outdoors or in the gym, the answer isn't set in stone. It's a decision that hinges on individual preferences, goals, and circumstances. 

According to Oscar Vazquez, M.D., FAAOS, sports medicine, shoulder and knee orthopedic surgeon, "Each option offers unique benefits and potential risks, making it a subjective decision." In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to choosing where to train for optimal fitness.

Benefits of Training Outdoors

  • Accessibility and fresh air: Outdoor training is easily accessible and can be done in local parks, trails, or neighborhoods. Enjoying the fresh air and natural surroundings adds to the overall experience.
  • Sunlight and vitamin D: Exercising outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which promotes the production of vitamin D, essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system.
  • Stress relief in nature: Being surrounded by nature during outdoor workouts can reduce stress levels and provide a calming effect on the mind and body.

Benefits of Training in the Gym

  • Wide range of equipment: Indoor gyms offer a diverse selection of exercise machines, free weights, and specialized equipment, allowing for targeted workouts and variety in routines.
  • Social interaction and motivation: The gym provides opportunities for social interaction, whether it's working out with friends or joining group classes. The supportive environment and camaraderie can boost motivation and enjoyment.
  • Professional guidance: Trainers at the gym can offer expert guidance, ensuring proper form, technique, and personalized workout plans to help you reach your goals safely and effectively.
  • Easy on your joints: Gyms typically have even surfaces and cushioned flooring, reducing the impact on joints during activities like running or high-intensity workouts.

Exercises Suited for Outdoors vs. the Gym

Outdoor environments are ideal for sporting activities such as running, biking, and other sports. The freedom of movement, varied terrains, and the invigorating elements of nature make these exercises more enjoyable and fulfilling when done outdoors.

Weightlifting is more effectively performed in a controlled gym environment with specialized equipment like barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines. The gym also provides dedicated equipment and facilities for activities like indoor cycling, rowing, and utilizing resistance machine

Finding the Right Balance

“The key is to find a balance that incorporates the benefits of both outdoor and gym training to create a well-rounded fitness routine that suits your needs and promotes overall health and well-being,” says Dr. Vazquez. 

So whether you prefer the fresh air and natural surroundings of outdoor training or the variety of equipment and social interaction at the gym, the most important thing is to stay active and enjoy the journey to better health.

Next Steps & Resources:


The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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