Indoor vs. outdoor training

Many of us frequent the gym to get the majority of our exercise done, indoors, while other people prefer to take things on in the great outdoors - running, cycling, and making use of the hidden wonder the "outdoor gym". But which one is actually better?

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The truth is, the fact that you’re exercising is what’s really important. Staying healthy is about eating right and getting regular exercise, but it shouldn't matter how you get that exercise done.


Obviously training outdoors and indoors is going to elicit different hormonal responses and each is beneficial in its own way, just as it is different from the other. But if you’re truly interested, then in the spirit of competitiveness and a thirst for information we’re going to lay down what’s right, and what’s wrong, about training outdoors vs indoors.


Studies have shown that when training outdoors, people generally feel happier and revitalised; a natural response to simply being around nature. And although this is true, it is also true that training indoors provides a safer, more-controlled environment that lessens your chance of injury. So each has pros and cons.


To do the comparison we’ll be looking at two of the main sports that can be done inside and outside: running and cycling.



Running is a fantastic aerobic exercise that can be done outside, think road races and marathons, and inside on a track or treadmill.

When it comes to the outdoors, running is beneficial as it offers more options such as:


  • Changing terrain and wind resistance
  • The ability to go downhill
  • More calories burned as you are dealing with external stressors
  • Exposure to vitamin D

Running indoors on a treadmill shouldn't be disregarded though, as:




Cycling is another popular aerobic exercise that can be performed on a stationary bike in a gym or on an actual bike on the road

Cycling in the great outdoors affords people a variety of benefits, like:


  •  A good way to socialise and learn to ride in a peloton
  • Gives cyclists that “freedom” that they crave
  • You’ll experience changes in scenery and gradation
  • Vitamin D exposure


But there is a suggestion that regular biking indoors may be more attractive because:



What Should You Do?


There are benefits to both aspects of training, but the main thing is to “get on the bike”, or “hit the road” and make exercise an integral part of your life.


How the body reacts for all forms of aerobic exercise has been proven to be pretty much the same, which is good news!


The fact is that the variety of options makes it easier to train constantly. If the weather is too cold, or too hot, or the rain is pelting down, then training indoors is a godsend and will help you change up the way you train, if you train outdoors. And when you are outdoors it’s almost impossible to be sedentary. These days too many people are living the majority of their lives inactively, and taking yourself outdoors will force you to work out and have a little fun.


We spoke about exposure to vitamin D, because recent research has shown that there is a major need for a lot of people to get more of it. The issue is that a lot of us are confined to the indoors during the day so by getting outside you’ll be doing wonders for your nutrition and fitness.


Working out in the gym adds to your motivation as you’re surrounded by many other people working out – and this intensifies if you have a training partner. Interacting with the social environment at gym, i.e. attending a spinning class, also exposes you to new ways of training.


It’s all about what you prefer, because it’s about you. If you don't mind contending against the elements and love the outdoors, then you may feel a bit isolated in a gym environment. And if you need to focus and concentrate more, but find the outdoors gets a bit tiring then there’s nothing wrong with going at it full-tilt indoors.


It’s all your choice!


The most important lesson out of all of this is that we just do what makes us feel happier, because only then will we start to take our health and wellness seriously. If you’re a little lost with your training then you can also use DNAFit’s genetic test to aid you in understanding more about your power/endurance response, VO2max potential, injury risk, and recovery time, which will give you invaluable information about your genes and how you can interact with your environment for the best results.

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