Now that summer is just around the corner, getting healthy and active is easier to do. From outdoor bootcamps, to family bike rides, hiking adventures and the numerous sporting events available, getting fit and having fun can go hand in hand.
Did you know that getting active and exercising outdoors has many benefits? Other than the fresh air, natural light, Vitamin D, and the ability to get a nice tan, here are some other reasons why you should be including the outdoors in your fitness program:
- Studies have shown that being active outdoors helps to reduce stress and reduce blood pressure.
- It ids in a more restful sleep
- As mentioned, the sunshine provides you with Vitamin D! Living in Alberta, with our long winter months, many of us do not get enough Vitamin D. Just like Superman, the sunshine also energizes our bodies.
- It saves money. There are so many activities, parks, sporting events, hiking trails, bike paths, etc. that you can use or participate in for free. Minimal to no equipment is required when doing a bodyweight exercise circuit.
- It saves time, as there's no need to go far. Many local neighbourhood playgrounds already have the necessary pieces of equipment you need for a great workout. For example, you can do chin-ups on the monkey bars, tricep dips on the park bench, lunges, squats, and/or push ups on the grass.
- It helps save the environment by not driving to the gym – enjoy the nature!
- It keeps the body guessing by changing your workout routine. Trying something new will prevent your body from adapting to the same old workout program
- It's social. With all the open space, you can workout with friends and family without being in a crowded gym. Working out in a group not only builds community, it holds you more accountable to your fitness program
- Happiness – this is what you get when you have more energy, you hang out with friends and feel the warmth of the sun shining down on you.
For you to enjoy all these health benefits of working out and being physically active outdoors, I want you to remember these safety tips:
- Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day, before your workout, during your workout, and after your workout. Stay away from highly caffeinated drinks as they tend to aid in dehydration. Make sure you also have some electrolytes, which are minerals in your body that have an electric charge. They are in your blood, urine, tissues, and other body fluids. Electrolytes are important because they help balance the amount of water in your body, as well as your body's acid/base (pH) level.
- Listen to your body and watch for any warning signs of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps – muscle spasms, dizziness, nausea, the absence of sweat, hallucinations, flushed skin and/or confusion. If you feel unwell for any reason, you should stop.
- On really hot days, start your workouts or activities early in the morning, or later in the evening when it isn’t as hot outside.
- Workout with a partner, not only for accountability but for safety as well.
- Dress for the weather by avoiding unnecessary layers, thick fabrics, and dark colours. Darker and thicker fabrics like polyester trap the heat and will only make your outdoor workouts miserably hot.
- Keep it light and loose to increase airflow and reduce your body’s temperature. Fill your summer workout wardrobe with light-coloured, moisture-wicking fabrics, like cotton. Wearing lighter, brighter colours will also help drivers see you more easily, if you’re exercising near or along a roadway.
Summer in Alberta is short lived, so go out there, be safe and enjoy it! Have fun, stay active, move, be healthy and get fit.
Jay Raymundo is the owner of NRG Fitness Inc., as well as a personal trainer for the City of Airdrie, the co-owner of F45 Training in Airdrie, and the strength and conditioning coach for the Airdrie Martial Arts Centre.