Exercise is essential to maintaining or improving both physical and mental health, and there is mounting evidence that you can gain additional benefits by taking your exercise outdoors. Researchers found that exercising outdoors led to feelings of revitalization, increased energy and decrease in tension.

Living in Florida creates some challenges you can still safely continue to safely exercise outdoors through the summer months.

Here are 6 great reasons to take your exercise outdoors:

1. You get to absorb and appreciate nature. Exercising outdoors can be a rewarding spiritual experience. I’m sure you’ve seen them; the walkers and joggers drenched in sweat, but smiling as though they’re having the best experience of their life. Spending time in the outdoors can give us a unique sense of peace and joy. Unlike being in a gym the outdoors is a constantly changing canvas, that gets you out of a mental rut.

2. You get your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin. You only need 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure to get your daily supply of Vitamin D. High levels of vitamin D improves your overall health and boosts your immune system.

3. You don’t have to wait on equipment. Unless your schedule is flexible and you can go to the gym during off hours, you may find that there are times when you feel uncomfortable, because too many sweaty strangers are invading your space. Waiting for equipment can be annoying, and the extra time you spend at the gym is often not used exercising, but waiting.

4. Outdoors is always available, but gyms are not. I like to get an early workout in on holidays but one of my frustrations has always been that the gym may not be open or if they are, the hours are limited.

5. The wind provides additional resistance. This helps you burn more calories. When walking, running or bicycling outdoors, you can use the wind to burn extra calories. Heading into the wind creates greater resistance and makes you work harder, while a tail wind helps you go faster.

6. Meet your neighbors. Exercising outdoors is a great way to get to know the neighborhood. Being outdoors and connecting with neighbors makes you feel connected to your community and increases your feelings of self-satisfaction.

If you’re feeling that your indoor workout is getting stale, it may be time to head outdoors, get a breath of fresh air and reap the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits.

Oris Martin is the Fitness Director at Edgewater at Boca Pointe, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Boca Raton, Florida. This column appeared in the March 2018 edition of the Viewpointe at Boca Pointe.