Trends & Features

Women desert the gym for the great outdoors

The weather may be frightful, but an al fresco workout can be delightful, according to new research that reveals there’s been a 52 per cent increase in women exercising outdoors since 2007.

48 per cent of women are exercising outside three times a week, while 60 per cent cite expensive fees as the reason they’re not going to the gym.

However, the study, conducted by sports bra brand Shock Absorber, reveals the benefits of the great outdoors are more than financial – 34 per cent of women felt they achieved a better workout because they were inspired by the surroundings and 50 per cent love the fresh air.

According to Dr Jo Barton, leading researcher in green exercise at the University of Essex, 88 per cent of people experienced an overall improvement in mood after exercising outdoors, compared to 45 per cent of people whose mood worsened after exercising indoors.

Shock Absorber has partnered with Dr Jo Barton to identify the UK’s top 10 inspirational green exercise hotspots, chosen for their balance of green space and water, stimulating views and proximity to wildlife. They are:

• White Cliffs of Dover, England.

• Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, England.

• Lunan Bay & Red Head, Scotland.

• Brecon Beacons, Wales.

• Killarney National Park, Republic of Ireland.

• Hampstead Heath, England.

• Loch Tay, Scotland.

• Downhill, Northern Ireland.

• Forest of Dean, England.

• Powis Castle, Wales.

The study showed running (48 per cent) and cycling (26 per cent) were the most popular outdoor activities, but newer fitness trends such as buggy fit and British military fitness are helping to drive the uptake of green exercise, with eight per cent taking part in each.

Shock Absorber has launched its ‘#Get Out There’ campaign to promote the benefits of exercising in the great outdoors and encourage women to share their inspirational places to train.

By uploading photos to the campaign’s Facebook page, people can be inspired by others experiences and try new locations for themselves.

Shock Absorber’s Kirsty Kothakota says: “Many women have their favourite exercise location, which gives their workout that extra boost.

“The aim of our #Get Out There campaign is to provide a nationwide picture of inspirational and accessible green exercise places.”

You can view further inspirational locations and participate in the campaign by visiting

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