Anytime is a great time of year to take your fitness outdoors! When you take your fitness routine outdoors you reap the mind, body and spirit benefits by immersing yourself in ever-changing landscape, sights, smells, and sounds - all helping to keep boredom at bay while you enjoy your fitness experience.
All sounds great, right? But what happens if you start out in 60+ degree weather and it suddenly shifts to the low 50’s? What if you walk out under a sun filled sky changes only to have it suddenly change to wind and rain? Sudden environmental changes can quickly take your outing from fun to frustrating. How can we keep up with Mother Nature's ever changing punches so we can fully enjoy our next outdoor adventure? By being prepared.
Staying hydrated is always important during exercise, but it’s especially important when you're exercising outdoors.
You should be hydrating before, during, and after your workout to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke in warmer weather. In cooler weather, you may not feel that same "heat" but your body still needs to stay healthily hydrated, so sip up!
And don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink, since that can actually be a sign of mild dehydration. Not sure how much water you need? Find out how much water your body needs.
Dress in layers
When it comes to exercise outdoors, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.
Dressing in layers that are quick-drying and moisture-wicking, like wool or polyester versus cotton are key for comfort and can reduce skin irritation as you sweat. Wearing layers that are easy to remove, such as a puffy vest, a lightweight fleece pullover, a hat, or gloves, make it easier to transition as your body heat increases and/or the outside temp changes.
Know your terrain
Personally, I much prefer an outdoor run versus one on a treadmill, but the preparation is very different.
Running and walking outdoors brings varying grades of terrain, elements such as wind or rain that can shift the dynamic of the ground beneath your feet, from dry to slick, stable to less stable.
Not to mention concrete is harder on the body than the belt on a treadmill. Aim to land softly with each step to minimize impact throughout your body. And of course, stretching pre and post workout is key to reducing tension and the impacts of inflammation. Trust me, your joints, muscles, and back will thank you later!
Have a plan
Whether you’re heading out on a run, hike or bike ride, having a specific plan in mind is important. Knowing your route, about how long it will take, and any items you might need to have with you in case it takes a bit longer than expected or if you should run into trouble are all key.
And don’t rely on only your phone because it frankly won't do much for you if you find yourself in an area with limited cell coverage (been there, done that!).
If you're headed out alone, tell a friend or family member where you’re going and when you plan to return. Bring along a light backpack or fanny pack with water, sunscreen, snacks, and a form of I.D. with emergency contact info.
Have the right shoes
Be sure to choose shoes that were made with your outdoor workout in mind.
The shoes you wear for a bike ride, walk, run, hike or strength training session are all a bit different. They'll support your feet and joints in different ways, from minimal cushion and tread to maximum cushion and gritty tread, to water resistant and more!
Not sure the best shoe for you? Try getting recommendations from people who are already doing that particular activity, ask them what they like about the shoe they're wearing (and what they don't), scroll through a fitness magazine for editor recommendations (runners world has annual readers choice recommendations article for example), or schedule a time to visit your local athletic shoe store for a custom fit and advice on the best shoe for you.
Find out more about how to pick the perfect shoe for you.
Bottom line: though it may take a bit of thought and research to prepare, the time and effort are well worth the result - a successful and rewarding outdoor adventure!
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