Having fun in the sun as the weather starts to warm up? Spring has finally arrived in the Treasure Valley! With it, many people are starting to get active after a winter of hibernation indoors. Follow these tips to make the most of your outdoor exercise program and stay safe as you enjoy nature's gym.
- Exercise is not "One Size Fits All." You'll be much more likely to commit to an exercise program if it's fun and challenging. Hate running? You're not alone; but you don't have to force yourself to get out there and pound the pavement. Find an activity you enjoy: basketball, hike, tennis, bike riding, rowing, stand-up paddleboard, bodyweight strength exercises, etc. Recruiting a friend to workout with you can make your exercise time more enjoyable as well.
- Stay Safe: Always be aware of your surroundings and potential dangers. Dress for quickly changing weather; spring in Idaho can be very unpredictable. If you choose to wear headphones, keep the volume at a level that still allows you to hear what's going on around you. Consult your physician before implementing an exercise program.
- Hydrate: Even if you drink the recommended amount of water per day, make sure you re-hydrate after exercise to replace lost fluids. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends consuming 14 to 22 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise, and another 6 to 12 ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise.
- Work in intervals: If it's been a few months (or longer) since you last worked out it's better to start slow. After warming up, work your body at a medium intensity for 20 - 45 seconds, and then slow it down to fully recover (1-2 minutes of low intensity) before you start your next interval.
- Don't skip your warm-up and cool-down: Often over-looked; they are both very important to your workout!
- The warm-up prepares you mentally and physically for exercise; it increases your heart rate and blood flow to your muscles.
- Conversely, the cool-down transitions your body back to its state of rest by gradually lowering your heart rate and cooling your body temperature.
- Rest and Recovery are important: Try to consume high-quality protein and carbohydrates within 90 minutes of exercise. Also, rest days are important to avoid over-training, injury, and burnout. This time period allows your body to recuperate and come back for your next workout even stronger.
Exercising outdoors has been shown to lower stress, improve mood, improve concentration and increase energy levels. This guide should prepare you for a season of great outdoor workouts this spring. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start reaching those goals. I know you're going to be glad you did!