Summer is the season for heading outdoors for family fun, food and even fitness! But before you lace up your sneakers for a summer sports league, 5K race or even a friendly neighborhood volleyball game, it is always important to think safety first. Take into consideration the following five quick tips before heading outdoors this summer so that you, your family and friends can all have enjoyable, injury-free summertime fitness experiences.
Tip 1: Beat the Heat
When you move your workouts outside, the local weather forecast quickly becomes your No. 1 planning tool, especially when summer temperatures climb the barometer. Generally, the hottest part of the day is between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. so it is wise to plan your outdoor workouts either in the morning or evening hours when the sun and heat aren’t as intense. What you wear also can be more important when you workout outside versus indoors, as loose fitting and moisture wicking clothing material can help increase ventilation and keep your body cooler in warm weather.
Tip 2: Drink to Compete
Your body needs adequate amounts of water to maximize fitness performance throughout the year, but when the temperature rises in the summer, hydrating appropriately is vital to your body’s overall performance, endurance levels and survival. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water – stay hydrated by drinking water consistently all day long.
Studies show that you must replace a total of 2.4 liters of water each day in your body, both through the water you drink and the food you eat. About 60 percent of the human body is made up of water and approximately 83 percent of the bloodstream is water. The body’s bloodstream is essential to metabolizing the carbohydrates and proteins you eat to fuel your muscles, transporting waste material out of your body and controlling your body temperature.1
Tip 3: Be Prepared for the Unexpected
No one likes to plan for the worst, but when you exercise outside, there are some essential safety tools you need in your possession that can make the difference between a simple mishap and a full-blown emergency. For starters, a cell phone is important to bring along in case you become injured, run into an emergency situation during your workout or simply lock your keys in the car. Bringing your cell phone along, though, doesn’t mean you can’t disconnect from technology during your workout – silence your phone and stow it away in a pocket or bag so you aren’t tempted to check your e-mail while doing a plank or set of box jumps. You don’t have to see it, but it’s there if you need it.
Whether it’s cloudy or sunny during your workout, you need to apply sunscreen to any exposed skin each time you step outside to get your fitness on. While sun rays provide essential Vitamin D nutrients your body needs, over exposure also can lead to sun spots and cancer. Enjoy the sun, but protect yourself appropriately.
Finally, a simple first aid kit should always be in your possession, whether it’s in your workout bag or in your car. You never know when you might scrape your knee running bleachers, cut your foot on a piece of glass left on the sidewalk or endure an unexpected bee sting. You may run into varying obstacles when exercising outdoors, so it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected.
Tip 4: Grab Your Friends and Family
While exercising alone can fulfill the need for solitude, unplugging from society and getting in touch with your inner soul, it is safer if you run in a pack when taking your workout outdoors. Working out in a group isn’t only good for creating camaraderie, motivation and accountability, but the buddy system also ensures that someone is watching your back during your workout. Your workout buddy can be a valuable asset to your fitness regimen by providing assistance in the instance of unexpected events during a workout such as rolling your ankle on a desolate trail run, sudden heat exhaustion, dehydration or close encounters with wildlife.
Tip 5: Enjoy the Scenery
It can be beneficial to both your mental and physical health to take your workouts outside this summer. After staring at gym walls during your winter/fall workouts, hiking in the mountains, running on the beach or doing a group workout at a local park can refresh your mental dedication and motivation to a fit lifestyle. When you take your workouts outside, you can quickly become engulfed in enjoying the ever-changing outdoor surroundings, rather than worrying about the length or intensity of your workout session.
It’s important, though, to start out slow at first and build up your outdoor workout intensity, as you can easily push yourself too far and too fast physically when exercising outdoors without realizing it. Have fun and be adventurous with your workouts this summer, but stay safe and injury-free.
The summer months are the perfect time to get out, get fit and enjoy an active lifestyle. If you need help with jump starting a healthy lifestyle or elevating your fitness level this summer, the personal training experts at Fitness Together are dedicated to helping you meet and exceed your fitness goals safely.
1 US Geological Survey; http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html