Written by Leila Dale
(3 min read)
Moving your workout outside this summer may increase the amount of physical activity you do, without you even realizing it!
Research has shown that people who exercise outdoors did significantly more moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity than those who only exercised indoors. As mentioned in my previous post, being physically active outside has many physical and mental health benefits. For city dwellers, you don’t have to drive far to find nature, even your local park provides benefits. Take a stroll outdoors and enjoy an enhanced mood, as well as lowered feelings of stress and frustration.
There are easy ways to switch up your routine and swap your indoor at-home workout for some outdoor fun. You could try a new outdoor-only activity, or, if you love your indoor routine, consider tweaking it with these suggestions:
- While indoor gyms are beginning to open up, there’s an outdoor gym found in many parks! Or, use your body weight for resistance (push-ups, squats, planks, etc.).
- Whether you walk or run on the treadmill, cardio can very easily transition to your local park or quiet city streets.
- If group exercise classes keep you motivated, consider an outdoor boot camp class.
- The beauty with a yoga mat is that it can be taken anywhere! Plant your mat at a park before it gets crowded. Kick start your day with the chirping of birds for an early morning yoga practice and before your community wakes up.
- Not ready to break up with your favourite Zoom fitness class? Expand your love of sports and fresh air by hitting a tennis court or community pool.
When it’s hot and humid you run the risk of sunburn, dehydration, and overheating. Before you move your activity outdoors, make sure you’re keeping yourself safe with a few precautionary measures. Here are a few tips to keep you safe:
- Stay dry and comfy and wear a cap — preferably, Dri-Fit, which absorbs sweat away from the body and is evaporated through the fabric. A dri-fit cap not only provides great sun protection but offers ventilation, as half of our body heat is lost from our scalp and face.
- Wear light clothing — both in colour and weight. Clothing that allows air circulation helps draw sweat from the body, which cools you down. Think light and loose, not tight and bright!
- Avoid exercising between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are strongest. Try an early morning or evening workout instead.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Avoid alcohol, as this increases your risk of dehydration.
- Protect exposed skin with broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Don’t forget your lips and ears!
- During a heatwave, when it’s really hot and/or humid, replace your more vigorous physical activity with a lighter workout in the shade, or take it back indoors.
A note on heat-related illnesses:
There’s a heatwave in the North-West U.S. and Canada. If you feel weak, disoriented, nauseous, dizzy, or exhausted, you may have heat exhaustion. This tends to occur when you can’t sweat enough to cool your body, which can happen quickly if you’re dehydrated. Mild heat exhaustion can be treated by moving into a cooler environment, drinking plenty of cool fluids, resting, and spritzing/dabbing with cool water or a towel/sponge.
Moderate to severe heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke — a dangerous condition that requires emergency medical treatment. Symptoms include unconsciousness, confusion, convulsions, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting. A person with heatstroke may experience red, hot, and dry skin and could be sweating heavily or not at all. To treat someone with heat stroke, call 9-1-1 and begin emergency first aid.
Play safe before you play outside. It’s always best to get the thumbs up from your doctor before doing any outdoor physical activity during the summer months, especially if you are taking prescription medications, have a health condition, such as diabetes, obesity, or heart disease. Some health conditions and medications can affect the way your body deals with heat. Special care should also be taken for young children and older adults, who are more prone to heat-related illness. Check on them often, and make sure they keep cool and drink plenty of fluids. For more on prevention and treatment of heat-related illnesses, click here.
Take care and enjoy the benefits of outdoor physical activity this summer – while it lasts!
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