8 Smart Tips for Outdoor Exercise

Outdoor Workout

Exercising outdoors is one of the perks of nice weather. However, outdoor workouts do require a few precautions.

Keep your exercise program safe and effective with these tips:

  • Avoid midday exercise. Instead, work out in the mornings or evenings when it's cooler outside and there's less exposure to the sun.
  • Drink enough water. Athletes can lose up to 2 quarts (1.89 liters) of water every hour during heavy exercise in hot temperatures. Fluid requirements vary widely and depend on different factors such as duration, exercise intensity and outside temperature. To make sure you're properly hydrated, slowly start drinking beverages at least two to three hours before you exercise — about 2 to 3 cups (473 to 710 milliliters) of water. It's also a good idea to eat a small salty snack, like a handful of salted peanuts or almonds, to stimulate thirst and help retain the fluids you consume. Drink about 1/2 to 1 cup (118 to 237 milliliters) of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout.
  • Use sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or sweating.
  • Wear sun protective clothing. Wear a hat and light-colored, loosefitting clothing that wicks away moisture.
  • Be safe at night. Wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility if you're walking or jogging at night.
  • Wear appropriate shoes. Choose shoes with good arch support and flexible soles that cushion your feet as they absorb shock. Look for a shoe that's designed for your specific sport or exercise. Most important, your athletic shoe should feel comfortable on your foot.
  • Be careful not to get dehydrated. Know the signs and symptoms of dehydration, a key factor in heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Signs and symptoms include extreme thirst; dry, warm skin; decreased urination; dry, sticky mouth; lightheadedness; muscle cramps or weakness; and headache. Try not to get to the point at which you're feeling thirsty. If you're thirsty, you may already be behind in terms of drinking enough fluids.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion. If you experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, stop exercising immediately. Find a cool place to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Signs and symptoms include cool, moist skin; muscle cramps; a weak pulse; nausea; dizziness; weakness; headache; feeling faint; and heavy sweating.

If you've been inactive for a long time, start back slowly. Spend extra time on your warmup and cool-down routines. Reintroduce vigorous activities, such as tennis or basketball, gradually.

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