Outdoor exercise is good for your health

Dr. David Kabithe, a Hopkinsville physician and marathon runner, stresses the benefits of exercising outdoors to improve mood and increase vitamin D levels.

With warmer temperatures now here, it’s a great time of the year to get outside and move our bodies. Sure you can exercise at home or at a gym, but going outside offers more benefits.  

Exercise is great for our health. It can help with weight control, prevent diabetes, strokes and heart attacks, improve circulation, lower our blood pressure and reduce our cancer risk. 

Dr. David Kabithe
Dr. David Kabithe

When it comes to exercise don’t let age deter you. Contrary to popular belief, as we age we shouldn’t exercise less — we should exercise more.

Losing muscle mass is a natural part of aging and leads to aches and pains that develop over time. After age 30 we begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% of muscle every 10 years, but this can be prevented or even reversed with exercise. Any exercise including walking, biking, swimming, running or weight lifting.

So exercise is good but exercising outdoors is special. It’s also called green exercise. It exposes us to sunlight which improves our mood and increases our vitamin D levels.

Also, exercising outside naturally releases norepinephrine which can reverse the damage that stress does to our brains. Actually, the very act of just being outside around nature like trees reduces our stress levels.

In Japan spending time outside in the forest is called “forest bathing” or Shinrin-yoku. A study done in Japan showed that spending just small amounts of time outdoors around nature can lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone.” 

Here in Hopkinsville we are very fortunate to have the Greenway rail-trail, which provides a perfect green space to get moving outdoors. During my runs on the trail I’ve seen people of all backgrounds moving their bodies and taking advantage of it, from kids on the local cross country teams to mothers and fathers pushing strollers, and even our elderly using walkers. So let’s all try to get out there for some free medicine.

See you on the trail!

Dr. David Kabithe

Dr. David Kabithe

Dr. David Kabithe is a board certified general surgeon as well as dialysis access surgeon. He has been in practice for 20 years. He currently practices at Jennie Stuart Health. He is also an avid runner and marathoner.