Spring is in the air. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. (Oh so blue!) And it’s National Physical Fitness & Sports Month. Oh, yes–it’s a beautiful, breezy, bountiful May.
Springtime is a great time to get active outdoors. The mercury has risen, so there’s no need to bundle up to play a pickup game or go for your run. But it’s not too hot either, so you won’t sweat out a week’s worth of water in the first 10 minutes. And you’re probably a little stir crazy after the long (so long), cold (so cold) months of winter, you’re just itching to get outdoors and into the fresh air.
There’s no time like present to take safety precautions while performing physical fitness activities, so grab your sneakers and while you lace up, check out our safety tips for outdoor fitness:
Protect Your Skin
Choose SPF workout gear whenever possible, and always slather on the sunscreen 30 minutes before you hit the outdoors. (Yes, even if it’s cloudy.) Don’t forget to rub some in on your ears, neck, and down the part of your hair!
Protect Your Eyes
Speaking of the sun, be sure to protect your eyes with UVA/UVB sport sunglasses, which provide extra protection around all edges (top and sides).
Choose the Right Gear
When it comes to outdoor exercise, one size does not fit all. For example, street runners need gel or padding to prevent foot injuries, while trail hikers should opt for thick-bottomed, hard-soled, high-top boots. Invest in the gear that will keep you safe and your body healthy.
Hydrate, the Right Way
You already know you need to stay hydrated while you exercise. If you’re outside for under an hour or if you’re taking it slow, water is an excellent choice. But if you’ll be under the sun, in the heat, and intensely active for more than an hour–think marathon training, not a leisurely stroll–then swap plain water for something with electrolytes and carbs, both of which you’ll need to replenish.
Beat the Heat
There are a few things you should know about outdoor exercise, even in moderate heat. First, be aware that if you exercised in the heat yesterday, you’re more prone to heat exhaustion and other problems today–no matter how cool it is. Also, while it often feels better to exercise in humid weather, humidity affects your body’s ability to cool itself; be just as careful on hot & humid days as on hot & dry days. Finally, be sure to water up before you go outside: 16 to 32 ounces, 15 to 20 minutes before you exercise should do the trick.
When you exercise outside, you introduce two new levels of safety concern: accidents and predators. To prevent accidents, be sure to wear the right gear (including reflective clothing in the early morning, at dusk, or after nightfall), keep your eyes open and, if you must use headphones, only use them in one ear. To deter theft or other predatory behavior, leave expensive jewelry at home, exercise with friends (or run with your dog), and always choose a safe exercise route or location.
Always carry identification, a cell phone, and a few bucks with you. (FYI, several brands offer workout clothing with built-in pockets.)