‘Exercising out in the fresh air multiplies its positive effects and has further benefits on top,’ Stangl explains. For example, numerous studies have proven that trees and other plants release chemical signals into the air that strengthen our immune system. There is also evidence of the health benefits of UV radiation from prudent amounts of sun exposure. However, ‘if you only feel comfortable going out in blue skies and sunshine, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you,’ the exercise expert laughs. ‘Regularly getting out of the cosy comfort zone of your home and feeling the heat, cold, wind, rain and snow against your skin not only makes you more resilient, but also makes you happier and feel more alive.’
To ensure that the mood-boosting effects kick in quickly and endure, the sports therapist recommends using the first five to ten minutes for a warm-up. During this time, you should perform your chosen activity at a moderate pace, slowly increasing the intensity rather than going ‘full-speed ahead’ from the start. ‘That allows us to adjust physically and mentally to the exercise. If you feel motivated, it’s also worth incorporating a few full-body exercises at the start of a warm-up. Mobility exercises and gentle stretches like the ones taught at Park Igls are perfect for this,’ he says. In any event, whether you are running, walking or cycling, you need to adapt the exercise intensity to your current fitness level. If you are tempted to overdo things, you risk injury due to reduced levels of concentration and movement precision.