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Man enjoying nature and jumping from cliff to cliff on a hike

Ditch the treadmill: The accessible thrill of green exercise

How activity outside can boost good vibes, moods, and energy levels.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Here’s an experiment: Ask a jogger, yogi, or rock-climber if they’d rather break a sweat while staring at a blank wall, or if they’d prefer some awe-inspiring views outside. (Outside is the very likely winner.) So what is it about exercise in nature that makes people feel happier?

One study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, found that compared to indoor workouts, fitness among nature was linked to greater feelings of revitalization, positive engagement, reduced tension, and increased energy levels. Outside exercise, sometimes called “green exercise,” actually has so many potential benefits that city planners are striving to incorporate more and more green space in urban destinations. No matter how fancy or luxurious a gym might be, the benefits of sweating in the open air outweigh the monotony of watching reruns on an old TV while strolling on an in-place treadmill in recycled air conditioning.

KEEN Footwear, a family-owned company striving to make getting outside more accessible to a wider range of people, has launched the Tempo Flex hiking shoes with green exercise in mind. KEEN wants you to take your workout outside and reap the plethora of benefits that come with it. The athletic-fit Tempo Flex, made with light and durable ripstop mesh and a more contoured fit, makes it easier to pick up speed on the trail, or practically any terrain. Using their best-selling hybrid hiker-sneaker platform and enhancing it with their new KEEN.BELLOWS FLEX technology, the Tempo Flex boots flex with you naturally, with a more secure fit, for everyone to move, jump, and walk with confidence. Ahead, some suggestions for an outside workout that’ll get the energy pumping.

Walk on an incline: You’d be surprised at how hard a simple walk uphill can be. You can burn as much as 175 to 300 calories, depending on your current weight, walking a mile uphill in the sun. During a classic treadmill routine, it can take almost 45 minutes of dripping sweat to burn just 200 calories, unless you’re in a full-blown jog. Research also shows that exercisers burn 10 percent more calories when they walk or run outside than they do when they hop on a treadmill at the same speed.

A power walk in the sand: Does your 15-minute video-streamed HIIT workout feel like it’ll never end? If there’s a beach nearby, rejoice. A study at the University of Western Australia cited that their female athletes worked harder while running in the sand: “It gave them a bigger boost in aerobic fitness within 8 weeks, even though they reported less soreness and fatigue along the way,” the authors reported.

A quick hike: Besides the cardiovascular benefits, going for a hike outside has some unexpected perks. Even a leisurely one-hour hike can zap up to 400 calories, while simultaneously strengthening the core and lower body. But, that’s not all. It also provides that sweet, sweet good-energy rush. Hiking can strengthen the large muscles in the body while releasing adrenaline and stimulating those feel-good endorphins.

A man hiking down a trail

Other studies have shown that workouts outside decrease cortisol levels (that pesky stress hormone). According to the American Council on Exercise, an outside workout takes more focus and adaptation to keep up, though an exerciser likely wouldn’t realize it. Little obstacles such as inclines, logs, rocks, or bumps mean your body works harder than it would if you were stable on a stair climber or elliptical.

Those obstacles on the trail demand a shoe that can keep up and the Tempo Flex was designed with movement in mind. KEEN.BELLOWS FLEX tech requires less energy to bend the foot, making each step feel easier and each stride more efficient. Durable without the bulkiness, yet lighter and faster than the Ridge Flex, the Tempo Flex is built on a more streamlined hiker-sneaker platform, designed for amplified speed on every trail. If you happen to come across a rushing stream of water out there, don’t fret; this shoe features KEEN.DRY waterproof protection.

All in all, it’s worth perspiring with Mother Nature when you can — and it sure beats paying a pricy monthly gym fee. If you’re working on sustaining or improving your mental health, or just want to get out for some fresh spring air, strap on your Tempo Flex hiking shoes and get outside.

Price Range

Men's Tempo Flex Waterproof Boot

in Black Iris / Orange

Men's Tempo Flex Waterproof

in Dark Olive / Black

Women's Tempo Flex Waterproof Boot

in Castor Grey / Dubarry

Women's Tempo Flex Waterproof

in Drizzle / Sharp Green