Sure, you’re bound to look better after you’ve become a boot camp regular. You’ll be en route to getting toned up and slimmed down, after all. Not only does our experience as a leader in fitness tell us you’ll feel fantastic after exercising outside, but science has found it will benefit your long-term health, too.
We can’t make you join us for a boot camp-style workout in the great outdoors, but, as you’ll see below, we really think you’d get more than a need for a new wardrobe out of it.
As you might imagine, physical exertion has a habit of burning fat and improving overall fitness. Boot camp-style work is definitely a great form of physical exertion (just ask our many dedicated British Military Fitness followers). But, while fat loss and better stamina are great in and of themselves, they come with extra health kicks, too.
Improving your cardiovascular ability will lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease, says British Military Fitness Senior Training Tutor, Andy Kay. Reductions in diabetes are strongly correlated with exercise as well, according to the former Royal Marine.
“Particularly with high-intensity interval training, which is what the bulk of BMF sessions are based around,” comments Andy, “You’ll work hard for ‘x’ amount of time, recover and then go again. That style of training is very, very useful for all of those issues. And obviously, reducing body fat helps as well, which is directly correlated with a lot of health issues.”
Compared to exercising indoors, for example in a gym, breaking a sweat outside during a boot camp can leave you with a stronger sense of revitalisation, more energy and less confusion, anger and depression. That’s according to a 2011 analysis published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
While the idea of doing sit-ups in grass might not appeal to everyone, in Andy’s experience, even the most mud-shy people can come to embrace the dirt. The Twickenham-based instructor says: “If someone’s never done it before you get a lot of, ‘I’m a bit scared,’ ‘Are you going to be mean?’; that sort of thing. ‘It’s cold, it’s wet,’ ‘I don’t want to get muddy.’ But nine times out of 10, people will get involved, start messing around, enjoy themselves, have a bit of fun and it just kind of outweighs everything. By the end, they’re not really bothered.”
Any kind of exercise can be great for stress relief, but it’s been discovered that exercising in the midst of nature can be a particularly powerful antidote. In particular, Japanese researchers found walking in the company of trees meant lower concentrations of cortisol, aka the stress hormone, than doing the same in an urban environment.
What it all suggests is that getting your exercise on in the wild, like you do with us, could not only lower your stress levels but help fight against all the negatives too much cortisol is thought to cause. Things such as more abdominal fat and an immune system less effective at repairing injuries and fighting infections could be partially remedied.
It’s not just the odd nagging injury that can be helped by stepping into nature, like you do with a boot camp. It seems tumours and virally-infected cells can also get a kicking. Another Japanese research team discovered walks in a forest field (not too far removed from the lush, leafy parks that we call home up and down the country) upped a particular breed of cells in participants which are known to battle both of those things. This should tell you boot camp workouts might do more than just your waistline the world of good.
What if we told you that you could exercise harder and, in the process, burn more calories and build a better physique without feeling like you’ve spent the necessary energy? Sound too good to be true? Sounds like exercising outdoors to us.
A study by Oxford Brookes University undertaken in 2000 found exercising outside altered subjects’ perception of effort when it came to exercise. They apparently asked adults to “walk fast but without overexertion” both inside and out, discovering that heart rate was higher for outside but perceived exertion was similar.
The labcoats weren’t sure exactly why, but whatever the cause, it could mean boot camps, which involve nothing but working out in the fresh air, may leave you feeling as though you’ve burnt fewer calories and shed less sweat than you really have. Science says that’s something that a run-of-the-mill stint at an indoor gym just can’t do.