If you’re like most Americans this winter, the cold, dark, snowy and wet days have more than likely derailed your workout routine and put you in an all-around foul mood.
As the desire for sunshine, warm weather and the start of spring sports and activities starts to burn stronger, it’s the perfect time to start putting plans in action to transition from a monotonous indoor environment to an adventurous outdoor landscape.
Take Advantage of a New Season of Enthusiasm
As the sun starts to stay up longer throughout the day and you get a glimpse of warmer temperatures this time of year, your excitement levels to get outside and get moving are sure to be bubbling over. It’s good timing, too, because you’re probably sick and tired of logging miles on the treadmill and looking at the same studio walls day in and day out as you struggled mentally to maintain your activity level throughout the winter.
Getting outside and shaking up the variety in your workout by biking on a long country road or hiking on nearby trails is a good way to rekindle your resolutions that may have dwindled during the cold winter months or re-motivate you to get back on course for training for your summer endurance races.
The benefits of exercising outside are as much psychological and emotional as they are physical. You’re more likely to move more and exercise when you can go outside because you don’t feel like you’re trapped indoors anymore and you have an overall better attitude.
Harness Your Excitement
As the excitement builds for moving your exercise program from the boring indoors to the great outdoors, you run the risk of doing too much too soon. The common tendency is to release all of your cooped-up energy by going crazy outside and increasing your volume to extremes without bearing in mind that you need to build up your outdoor activities incrementally in order to avoid injury and burnout.
I know you’re eager to get out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. But if go out gradually and get fitter along the way, as opposed to going out too fast and overloading your connective tissues and muscles, you will have better results.
The rule of thumb is to increase the volume of your activities like running and biking by no more than 10 percent per week. And, if you’re moving into a new activity that you haven’t been doing all winter like tennis, golf or baseball, then you need to add some sports-specific movement training to your routine to replicate the new demands you’ll be putting on your body in your outdoor sport.
It’s easy to go out and get overly enthusiastic in the beginning of the season by playing three rounds of tennis when you haven’t picked up a racket all winter. You have to focus on progression and you really need to prepare your body with movement and agility training before heading outside.
Don’t Limit Yourself to Only Cardio Outside
The first activities that come to mind when you think about exercising outside typically include some type of cardio such as running, biking, rollerblading or swimming. But don’t overlook the opportunity to take your strength training outdoors, too.
Using body weight movements, a kettlebell and TRX straps, you can easily set up a fun and effective total body strength training workout. All you have to do is find a safe place to attach your TRX and away you go building strength in the beautiful outdoors.
You just feel better about yourself when you’re moving outside, breathing fresh air and soaking up sun rays while you exercise.
Respect the Elements
Exercising outside can be an inspirational and motivating experience, but being out in nature also warrants certain precautions. Fast-moving weather that can change conditions in an instant is very common this time of year. It’s important to be prepared with the right clothing, nutrition, equipment and overhead protection so you don’t find yourself stuck in a lightning and rain storm miles away from the closest shelter or resource center.
It’s also more important than ever to plan ahead by keeping track of upcoming weather patterns and making sure you are back from your activity before the sun sets for the day.
When you hear about people getting in trouble outdoors, it usually comes down to ill-advised decisions or not being adequately prepared. No matter what activity you’re doing, you have to make sure you’re doing it within your ability and physical level. Being prepared and making decisions on the side of caution is key to being active outside. Remember, there’s always another day if conditions aren’t at their best.
Springtime brings new weather and new opportunities to mix up your workout routine. But if you’re anxious to jump into a new activity as soon as the weather gets warmer before preparing your body for the elements, then you’re probably going to do more harm than good.
It can be hard to hold yourself back when you set foot outside for your first day of warm, sunny spring workout weather. But take it one safe step at a time so you can continue enjoying your favorite outdoor activities all season long.