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The #1 Best Place to Exercise, New Study Says

Working out in this one location could give you the mental health boost you need.
  • Whether you're enjoying an endorphin rush after a few laps in the pool or feeling a runner's high after a quick jog, it's no secret that exercise can be a major mood booster. In fact, a 2018 review published in the Journal of Happiness Studies reveals that doing just 10 minutes of exercise a week was associated with improvements in mood.

Better yet, a new study suggests that doing your workout in one particular place could make you feel better—and it might even improve your feelings of anxiety and depression.

Before you lace up those sneakers, read on to discover which workout location could make you feel like a million bucks. And if you're trying to slim down, check out these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.

A new study links outdoor exercise to major reductions in anxiety.


A 2021 meta-analysis published in SSM – Population Health reviewed 14,231 records and 50 studies on the effects of outdoor activities. In reviewing the data, researchers found that participating in nature-based interventions (NBIs), like gardening and outdoor exercise, for between 20 and 90 minutes for 8 to 12 weeks, significantly reduced anxiety symptoms.

"We've known for some time that being in nature is good for health and wellbeing, but our study reinforces the growing evidence that doing things in nature is associated with large gains in mental health," explained the study's lead author Peter Coventry, PhD, a senior lecturer in health services research with the Mental Health and Addiction Research Group at the University of York's Department of Health Sciences, in a statement.

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Outdoor workouts were found to reduce depression, too.

man exercising outdoors running

It's not anxiety alone that outdoor exercise was shown to benefit, however.

The study's researchers also found that NBIs were associated with major reductions in depressive symptoms as well. This isn't the first time research has linked outdoor exercise with benefits for those with depression, though. A 2011 study published in Science and Technology found that exercising outdoors was associated with reductions in feelings of depression, anger, tension, and confusion.

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Outdoor workouts were also shown to improve overall mood.

Mature fitness woman tie shoelaces on road

Even if you don't specifically struggle with depression or anxiety, exercising outdoors may help give you a major mood boost.

The same SSM – Population Health study found that nature-based interventions were also associated with major improvements in positive affect while also significantly reducing negative affect.

Working out in a group may have even greater benefits.


While the results of the meta-analysis certainly indicate that outdoor exercise can confer a wealth of benefits for mental health and mood, researchers found that there was a way to get even greater mood-boosting results: bringing a friend.

"While doing these activities on your own is effective, among the studies we reviewed it seems that doing them in groups led to greater gains in mental health," Coventry added.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah