• Peter Turnbull

Are you IN or OUT ? -Hormonal Changes and Health Benefits that accompany Outdoors Training

What are the hormonal changes that accompany outdoors training ?

Turnbull Training West Hill Hastings UK Fitness Group

There have been many well documented studies that confirm what most people have suspected for a while, that outdoors training is superior to indoors training for reducing stress and anxiety levels, this is particularly good for people who are above the average stress level or may be highly reactive to others in a stressful situation either at work or home, travel or indeed even in an indoor gym setting.


As a result being such an efficient and effective method for controlling stress levels, outdoors fitness training could be a great alternative to medications or even help reduce the intake of medications entirely, eventually.


2013 Gladwell et al


“Increasing the level of psychological stress is detrimental to health, and with stress reportedly increasing [51], methods to help to cope with stress are required. Nature may be one such solution as it does also appear to reduce stress markers. Endocrine markers adrenaline, noradrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol, all fall after being within nature, suggesting that exposure to nature affects the two main stress systems, the sympatho-adrenal medullary and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis “


full article here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710158/


The habituation of being indoors and how our surroundings affect our psychology, and decision making.

We are creatures of habit, we are the sum of what we consistently do, and as such there are quite a few things that can affect these habits, which in turn shape our outcomes in life.


When it comes to exercise or training one great deciding factor in whether or not we stick to or even start a program can simply boil down to one thing, availability.

If we consistently link being indoors or in a gym to our training then we will eventually condition ourselves to need that facility or familiar set up to do our training.


However, if we are already conditioned habitually to train anytime/anywhere whatever the weather, then we will indeed have broken through what tends to be a major barrier for most people.


Of course to get to that point we need to have the knowledge and experience imparted on us and to cultivate the mental and physical discipline that accompanies it.


Cabin fever!!

You wake up indoors, you get up get ready indoors, run to your car (mini indoors) get to work indoors , have lunch in a cafe indoors , drive to the gym indoors and come home back to indoors , time spent outdoors minimal and all the while you have been cooped up cramped in a confined space with other humans. Its enough to make you physically and mentally , Sick.


It’s such a distant comparison to how we were ancestrally on the great plains, and as a result our brains still have not yet adapted to this ongoing socially induced boxing and roofing of our life. This is compounded by the ever reaching and connecting social medias and technology which always keep us in this confined boxed in hyper-connected and cramped head-space, how many times have you gone for some fresh air, an nice walk in nature and you get a notification !


Outdoors training and sickness illness correlation, virus studies

“People who exercise regularly are less likely to get a cold, researchers say. A study of 1,000 people found that staying active nearly halved the odds of catching cold viruses and, failing that, made the infection less severe. ...”


So if people who exercise get sick less often than people who don’t, it would stand to reason that people who train outdoors away from other sick people would get sick even less,

without encouraging everyone to become a hermit, one of the best things you can do to prevent illness is to avoid sick people or massive populations and keep yourself as healthy as possible.


I never get sick, and many of my clients have reported that since training outdoors, they have not gotten sick, while most people they have known this year during flu season have fallen ill from a bug that’s being passed around especially in close confined areas that are heated (incubated) to harbour bacteria and viruses which allow them to thrive and multiply.


On a side note fresh air with higher levels of oxygen (outdoors air) has been proven to be less polluted than indoors air, even in inner city areas !


Oxygen rich air as well as sunlight (U.V) has also been proven to destroy viruses bacteria and spores.


Viruses love unnaturally lit, warm conditions with poor air quality, where they lie in wait suspended in the air in little water droplets like a mist of disease waiting for a host to invade.


Don’t get me wrong I’m not a clean freak or obsessive compulsive cleaner, anyone who knows me personally can vouch for that!


But what I personally hate is being ill or sick; it’s such a waste of time and energy, especially if you can prevent it. Prevention is better than the cure.


Prevents S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

S.A.D is a condition that can affect a large part of the population in low sunlight areas or conditions, sometimes the symptoms are obvious and present in the form of depression moodiness or feeling tired and run down, other times they are not so obvious and could just be mistaken for character traits or feeling “off”.


This condition is brought about or made worse by insufficient sunlight exposure, in turn producing a lack of vitamin D3 synthesis in the skin cells and a lack of melatonin.


Vitamin D3 is a vitamin/hormone crucial to the regulation of the immune system and melatonin is a hormone that is crucial for regulating the sleeping cycles of the body, insufficient amounts can result in insomnia or inefficient sleep.


Naturally, exercising outside especially in the sunlight can greatly alleviate the symptoms of S.A.D and or insomnia. Even in the winter months.


Mental Toughness linked to success in life

There’s no doubt about it, life’s tough, no one gets out alive! Sure some have it easier or harder depending on who’s asking or observing, but, I would argue that it’s all relative to your own personal perspective, what may be easy for one may be hard for another, whatever it is that you find is tough right now what you need to be is tough in the mind, to stick it out and see things through.


This translates to every part of life, work, love, money, you name it, even ….. fun! You can’t win a game of poker or chess by having a weak mental game (not that winning is everything, but it is good!) and equally you can survive the mental stresses of modern life without an iron clad unshakeable yet flexible mind-set. Training outdoors no matter the weather teaches you to endure discomfort and maintain focus, it cultivates mental toughness.


Every time you conquer your usual excuses and inhibitions you WIN !!


Flexibility, Preparedness, Organisation, Problem solving under duress, Stress management, Focus under pressure, Variety.

As the saying goes there’s no point in having power without control, or coordination, just ask any formula one driver or jet pilot. The same goes in terms of balance for toughness; alongside physical and mental toughness you need flexibility to be truly robust in mind and body you need to be tough and flexible, like a samurai sword.


As we train in different locations with different layouts and terrain we will inevitably encounter the challenges of the seasonal weather, this forces you to adapt physiologically and psychologically, it is a form of natural stress and duress that is uncomfortable at first your body and so your mind naturally adapt effectively. This is after all what your body and mind is actually biologically programmed to do, to adapt to natural stress, this is the remedy for modern stress.


When this adaptation situation is combined with an effective outdoors training program, and livened up with music, and game challenges and beating personal bests, the process is greatly accelerated, especially if there is fun and variety involved.


Studies have shown that participants in fitness stay with a program longer based on these factors. Trainees who stayed longer got better results that are more permanent.


Training regularly outdoors teaches you to be prepared and organised with your training gear and your own healthy habits, for example you would be more aware of your food for the week and prepare your meals in advance, or keep your outdoors training gear on standby in a dry-bag ready for action.


Happiness studies and outdoor training

There are plenty of studies that show that outdoors training when done properly can elevate people’s moods significantly more than indoor training of the same sort.


I have plenty of my own experience and the experiences of my own clients who can attest to this, there is something about outdoor training that can’t be matched in an indoor environment, and in fact the studies show that the harsher the weather the greater the effect, especially with cold weather training and mood enhancement.


Comfort zone busting, gratitude cultivation, lots of comfort taken for granted

We live in copious amounts of comfort, fast food on speed dial, central heating, hot running water, modern convenience definitely has it perks, but what happens when you get used to that and it no longer has the same affect on our mental health ?


We begin to develop a sense of complacency and forget that 100 years ago these conveniences were only for the higher echelons of society or didn't even exist.


When you intentionally bust your comfort zones the side effect is gratitude cultivation, for the seemingly simple things in life, that sofa or hot bath feels really good if not better than usual after a hard session outdoors in the freezing rain.


Not everyone can facilitate an effective outdoors program that is maintainable, fun and gets results, all year round inside and outside of training.


That’s why it’s important to train with an established and proven method and fitness company such as Turnbull Training.



Turnbull Training West Hill Hastings UK Fitness Group


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