Differences in Motivation: Outdoor Running Vs. Indoor Running

Does participating in outdoor versus indoor physical activity have any benefits on overall well being?

This topic is relevant and important because there are health benefits to engaging in outdoor physical activity. When people attend to outdoor habitats, gardens and other forms of nature, they are more likely to engage in physical activity and other behaviors that improve health.
Many people spend money to become a member of a gym, when in reality the outdoors can motivate people to engage in physical activity more then at a gym. In today’s society, being a member of a gym is common and certainly well accepted, but according to studies, the motivation to continue physical activity is greater when the outdoors are involved.  

When the external environment was lacking in information, individuals were more likely to encode internal information and report more fatigue; conversely, when the environment was salient (preferable or distinguishing), internal sensations became less important. These experiments and others have provided interesting insight into some of the environmental and sensory cues affecting the selective monitoring of physical sensations by demonstrating that the perception of physical symptoms and effort may be manipulated by cues that direct and focus attention either internally or externally. 

A research study looking at outdoor versus indoor running showed that the subjects who run outdoors feel less anxious, less depressed, less angry and hostile, less fatigued, and more invigorated while the indoor runners reported feeling more tense, more depressed, more angry and hostile, and more fatigued. The rate of perceived levels of exertion were higher following all running conditions as compared with the control condition.

The results generally indicate that vigorous exercise can have beneficial effect on mood, but the environment and setting in which it occurs and the focused attention seem to exert a mediating effect.

This implies that the activity of exercising is not automatically beneficial, but exercisers need positive environmental stimulation to gain the full beneficial effects from their activity. These findings are particularly relevant for the design of exercise programs, whether for therapeutic or training purposes. 

Positive environmental stimulation may be even more important to enhance compliance with and adherence to therapeutic exercise programs for persons whose motivation may not be as high as that of dedicated athletes.

Engaging with nature to promote health: new directions for nursing research.
PubMed. Seheier, Carver, & Gibbons, 1979.