Spring is finally here, and if you’re anything like us, you probably can’t wait to take your fitness routine outdoors.
Outdoor workouts offer tons of great health benefits. The vitamin D we receive from the sun amps up our immune system, boosts bone health, and can actually improve mood. Working out outside also provides better mental stimulation and decreases stress and anxiety better than logging hours in the gym.
There is, however, a little prep work you need to do to prepare you body for warmer temps. The tips will help you transition your fitness routine outdoors, and also help keep you safe and free from painful back, neck, knee and other serious injury.
- Get the go-ahead from your doctor first. This is especially important if you’re recovering from a previous injury or suffering from a chronic condition. Make sure you let your physician know what types of exercise you plan on doing, and heed his or her warnings about your physical limitations.
- Start slowly. Instead of jumping into hour-long workouts in the heat of the day, go slow. Start with only a few minutes and gradually up the amount of time you spend working out outside.
- Don’t skip the warm-up or the cool down. Warming up helps ensure that your muscles are adequately supplied with oxygen, which can help decrease stiffness and lessen your chance of injury. Stretching at the end of a workout and cooling down helps reduce the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles and puts less stress on the heart.
- Hydrate. Bodies that are dehydrated are much more prone to injury and heat-related illness. Always pack a water bottle and make sure to sip on it often, and if you’re going to be exercising for more than hour, switch to a sports drink with electrolytes.
- Pick the right clothing. Cotton might be more comfortable, but it’s not great as a fabric for working out. It holds moisture and can increase body temperature to a dangerous degree, potentially leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Aim for fabrics that wick away moisture instead, like a cotton/polyester blend, or specifically designed synthetic fibers.
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