Cyclists cycle uphill in the middle of the country side in a race

Location, location, location

Does it matter where you exercise?


What effect does where you exercise have on you? This is tricky to investigate because just being in natural surroundings can have positive effects on people’s moods. (This topic is explored in more detail in our article ‘Do plants make us feel better?’)

Still, there is some evidence that being outdoors boosts the good mood induced by a walk or a run, compared with the same amount of effort in the gym. Green landscapes and water also seem to make people feel better about themselves and more inclined to go out for another session.


Some elite athletes choose to train at higher altitudes, as it is harder. This is because exercising and training requires lots of oxygen, which is less available at altitude – the atmospheric pressure, and so the concentration of oxygen in the air, is lower. To compensate for this, the body increases production of red blood cells by up-regulation of erythropoietin (EPO) (as discussed in our article  ‘Performance-enhancing drugs’), which then allows increased oxygen delivery when competing at sea level.

However, there are potential health risks associated with training at higher altitudes, which include the blood thickening due to the increase in red blood cells, as well as weight loss and a compromised immune system

Lead image:

Caroline/Flickr CC BY NC ND


About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Exercise, Energy and Movement’ in January 2012 and reviewed and updated in August 2016.

Ecology and environment, Health, infection and disease
Exercise, Energy and Movement
Education levels:
14–16, 16–19, Continuing professional development