The sun is shining. The days are longer. The breeze is warmer. The outdoors are calling! It’s the perfect time of year to exercise outside.
My puppies are always reminding me to head outdoors to enjoy a brisk walk. But they’re not my only motivation. Exercise is loaded with benefits for all ages in all stages. It’s a little like taking a sip from the fountain of youth.
- Improves cognitive function
- Fights depression
- Impacts heart health
- Strengthens bones and builds muscle
And those are just the highlights. Exercise is worth the effort, especially when you can reap the added benefits of fresh air and sunshine at the same time.
Before you exercise outdoors, though, let’s talk safety tips:
1. Plan Ahead
Take a minute to plan what you’ll be doing and prepare for it. Keep your wallet and phone on you if at all possible. Check in with a friend before you head out and let them know your plan. Or better yet, invite them along! Know the route you’ll be taking so you don’t get lost, and make sure you have enough water to get you back home again.
2. Dress Appropriately
Wear shoes that fit well and comfortably. As far as clothing, dress for the weather. Layers are great for these springs days. Remember that if you head out on a walk in the morning, it could heat up quickly so shedding layers will help prevent overheating. Don’t forget to lather on some sunscreen before you head out the door!
3. Notice Your Surroundings
Avoid tripping by paying attention to where you’re going, especially if you’re on uneven ground or a nature trail. But don’t spend the whole time staring at the ground! It’s incredibly important to notice what is going on around you. Be aware of potential dangers whether it be in the form of human or animal or vehicle. Choose an area that is well-traveled, keeping an eye on all directions, especially behind you. Watch carefully for motorists as they are less likely to see you as you are to see them.
4. Stay Visible
Make it easy for motorists to see you by wearing light colors, preferably reflective. Be sure to make it back home before twilight. In addition, always assume that a driver doesn’t see you before you cross a street or as you walk alongside a road. Be a defensive exerciser!
5. Recognize Warning Signs
Outdoor exercise has different dynamics than a gym or at-home workout. It may take a little time to adjust to the varying weather and terrain. Heat may cause you to become dehydrated quickly and lead to more dangerous situations like dizziness and a sudden drop in blood pressure. If you notice any of these warning signs, stop exercising immediately, get out of the heat, and hydrate:
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive sweating
- Visual impairment
It’s incredibly important to protect yourself as you exercise in the great outdoors. But don’t let the fear of danger prevent you from soaking up this beautiful season! Implement these simple tips and you’ll be reaping the wonderful benefits of outdoor exercise without anything to fear!
Now if you’ll excuse me, my furry companions and I are going to take advantage of this beautiful day!