The warm weather is finally here and that means people are enjoying the outdoors and taking their fitness routines back outside.
Any type of outdoor physical activity is a fantastic way to improve your heart health, get fit, strengthen your muscles and joints (and prevent injury) as well as improve your quality of life. But be careful! Many of us take our fitness routines to the extreme, trying to mimic the workouts we see in exercise magazines that are not designed for the average person’s fitness level.
Once the warm weather hits, we start to think in extremes – long hikes, mountain climbing, extreme cycling trips, etc. There’s no need to overdo it! Taking on an outdoor activity that your body is not prepared for greatly increases your risk of injury.
Avoid hurting yourself or developing a strain that can last a lifetime with these simple Dos and Don’ts of Outdoor Exercise.
1) Listen to Your Body
You know when you’re pushing yourself too hard. If you’re not accustomed to going for two-hour-long hikes, or climbing mountains or running a 10k, then don’t overdo it! Yes, completing that climb feels amazing but straining your muscles beyond what they’re capable of is a big no-no.
Start small and work your way up to the end goal. Bonus: all the “training” you do will just be icing on your fitness cake.
2) Do An Exercise that Challenges You
This may seem counterintuitive to what we just said, but there’s a big difference between challenging yourself and overdoing it. Sticking to the same old routine when you’re exercising outdoors can be boring, but it can also make your muscles stop working as hard as they get used to the routine. You also run the risk of degenerating the muscles you’re not using.
This is a common problem for runners as they get into a solid stride during their outdoor runs and just tend to stay at that same pace. Always go for the same walk or long run? Mix it up! Throw in some body-weight workouts at the end of your run or try doing some intervals. A great resistance workout you can do outdoors is the 7-Minute Workout!
3) Invest in a Good Pair of Shoes
Working out outdoors put a whole new level of strain on your knees and joints, that can lead to serious complications like fallen arches, back and leg pain, and foot deformities. Floors, especially floors at the gym, often have some sort of give or cushioning, but pavement? Not so much. Go for shoes that are functional, NOT just stylish!
It’s also important to invest in some form of orthotic support. A qualified specialist at a sporting store can provide you with quality shoes, but a chiropractor can provide you with the proper custom orthotics to support your exact foot shape – very important if you’re planning on running outside.
We offer a full line of custom-made orthotics designed to your exact foot shape that can be comfortably worn inside your shoes to give you that extra support and cushioning your feet need!
4) Stop to Smell the Roses
Studies have shown that chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus and bacteria, called phytoncides, can improve our immune systems. It’s also a fact that spending time in the outdoors can improve mental clarity, reduce stress and frustration, and improve sleep patterns.
So take a timeout from the vigorous workout and go for a leisurely walk outside and really the outdoors.
1) Skip Stretching
For some reason, many people tend to skip their stretches when they exercise outside. Maybe it’s the fresh air or maybe the absence of heavy weights makes it feel like less of a “workout”, but whatever the reason, stretching is imperative to your muscle and joint health.
After that long hike, bike ride, or run, make sure to take about 15 minutes to stretch your muscles while you’re still warm, NOT when you’re already back home. This helps prevent injury but it also keeps your muscles long and lean and makes your next workout all the easier.
We offer training on proper stretching techniques in-office. Don’t risk injury from your workouts! Call us today for a FREE consultation and we can teach you the right and wrong ways to keep your muscles and joints healthy.
2) Be a Slave to the Numbers
There’s no “I have to” when it comes to exercise, and nowhere is that truer than exercise outdoors. Setting out to hit 10k in 45 minutes might be doable some days, and some days it might not be. It’s a simple as that. Sticking obsessively to your distance and time can take the joy out of exercise and increase your risk of injury if you push yourself too much.
Unplug some days. Hit your 10k but don’t worry about the time. Get to the top of that mountain climb but don’t obsess how long it took you. Enjoy your outdoor workout; we all know how quickly the season will change again!