You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream. Wise words from CS Lewis that are particularly apt as we begin another cycle around the sun. With this, comes the resolve to be the best version of what we can be and it usually starts with fitness. This year, fitness enthusiasts and coaches are recommending returning to the outdoors for exercise. It is believed that this is the best way to ensure a holistic and satisfying workout. A trend that took baby steps at the onset of the pandemic has now become a full-fledged movement, with outdoor fitness classes, adventure sports, and freestyle outdoor activities emerging ahead of traditional indoor gyms and fitness studios.While studying Google search trends on fitness towards the end of 2022, it was revealed that Everesting, Hiking, Rock Climbing, and also just Outdoor Fitness, were on the list of top 20 searches. Why are so many people considering these along with other outdoor exercises in their daily fitness routine?Jyotsna John, an NCSA-certified strength and conditioning specialist who is India/US-based says, If you train in the morning, sunlight in the early hours of the day can help set your circadian rhythm, better known as the sleep-wake cycle. Your circadian rhythm determines everything from hormone health to digestion. Secondly, outdoor workouts are more likely to have better air quality. Although this largely depends on where you work out, it is certainly less likely to be what someone else is breathing out! Lastly, working out without artificially-moderated temperature control forces your body to adapt and burn more calories. Again, there is no one workout thats specifically best for the outdoors, but if your goal is reducing stress or resetting circadian rhythm for better sleep, then walking in nature is the best for this!You can burn calories anywhere you like going up and down the office stairs every day, or spending time in your pilates studio. But outdoor exercise can be a natural and very potent anti-depressant. Serotonin is a hormone that increases when you spend enough time in the sunlight; it is the bodys natural mood stabiliser and keeps the blues away. If youre able to find a park or a green area to work out in (good luck, if youre in one of Indias urban jungles!), then spending time among the trees and plants is a natural and stress-buster. The Japanese consider it therapy and call it shinrin-yoku, which literally means forest bathing. So along with your physical fitness, youre also improving your mental and emotional health.Around one billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D. Oddly enough, even in India with its abundant natural reserves of Vitamin D in sunlight, nearly 76 per cent of the population is deficient. This includes 84 per cent of pregnant women. Spending time out in the sun every day can help prevent and treat them as well.Adventure sports instructor Latika Malik says that the number of women who are taking up activities like mountaineering, para gliding and surfing are slowly increasing and the statistics are on an upward albeit slow rise. When the terrain and weather conditions are unknown and vary every day, this itself requires the use of more physical strength and mental agility. If you dont know where to begin, make use of the resources around you. For instance, you may have access to hiking trails only over weekends. On other days, consider an early-morning bicycle ride around your locality, or pick up a rowing membership at a sports club. Freestyle activities like this usually work out just one set of muscles, so mix it up a bit.She adds, Extreme adventure sports have even more benefits for instance, rock climbing can help you burn over 800 calories an hour, and river rafting can knock 500 calories an hour off your frame. Ive also found that they are confidence-boosters among women who are able to get the hang of them and navigate them successfully. However, Malik stresses the risks of adventure sports and accidents. Make sure youve only gone to a certified instructor, who takes all precautions and safety measures before you decide to jump in literally.If all you have is your terrace or driveway, fret not. You can challenge yourself with bodyweight exercises such as squat jumps, walking lunges, calf raises, push-ups, planks, or even a good yoga workout. Make sure youve been guided first by a trained fitness instructor before starting on these workouts, or else you could risk injuring yourself. Dont forget your sun protection (SPF 30 or higher), good shoes that are appropriate for the terrain you will be navigating, and extra hydration. Dont forget to warm up, stretch and cool down.Beyond benefits like cardiovascular health, weight loss, and strength-building, outdoor sports are also more affordable and can be a lot of fun. When you engage in them over time, they help improve reflexes, concentration, coordination, and motor skills and also train you to adapt more easily to various environments.But were not completely writing off indoor gyms and fitness centres, for those of you who have underlying medical problems, require constant guidance or need a safe haven to work off those extra calories. Also, working out in the outdoors is not without its fair share of problems. If you have a dust/pollen allergy, the outdoors can aggravate this condition, says John, adding, If youre a beginner, the lack of air conditioning might mean you need to cut short your workout or reduce the intensity at which you work. Equipment is also likely to be more basic in the outdoors, so youll have to do more general conditioning and less isolation/accessory work that can help you build more muscle.Being in the outdoors is magical in more ways than one. Planning your workouts under the canopy of the pale blue sky can help you rediscover this magic and reconnect with nature.