Whatever fitness routine we choose, keeping it fresh is a priority for keeping it going. One boost toward that comes again this time of year as the outdoors beckon to become the setting for our workout. With the right precautions and awareness, the beauty of nature can become a part of the workout itself.

It’s a good time to recall some of the steps we can take to make the most of the outdoors in our fitness routine, and to do it safely. The suggestions for what to do for exercise outdoors are as abundant as the benefits. Shape Magazine, for one, has a list of outdoor workout ideas that emphasizes the new and engaging.

Not Just a Backdrop

Just about everything good that we get from exercise gets better when we do it outdoors. Natural light generates essential vitamin D, improves our mood, and, for anyone who might suffer from seasonal affective disorder, can be the turning point to a positive outlook. Uneven terrain outdoors brings the sense of balance into play, with the body’s response to those subtle signals coming up from the earth. Air quality outdoors is generally two to five times better than indoors, too. And the change in routine itself brings training benefits to the muscles, because we are not repeating the same workouts the same way.

The stimulation our senses receive from exercising outdoors is a natural antidote for the numbing effect that comes from spending 90% of our time indoors. Taking your exercise routine outdoors calls for some precautions, though. They are easy, but not to be overlooked.

Walkers and runners are among the first – and most enthusiastic – to welcome back the outdoor season. If you run or walk alongside streets or roads, choose the side that has you facing traffic. It’s essential that you add your own watchfulness to the safety equation, rather than relying only on the attention of motorists. Skip the ear buds, too, because staying aware of your environment is vitally important. Music and motivational recordings have their place, but outdoors you need the awareness that all your senses provide.

The Sun is a Mixed Blessing

For all its benefits, the sun can be a threat, too, so sunscreen and hats become essential exercise accessories when we move our workout outdoors. Protecting ourselves from premature aging and skin cancer calls for applying sunscreen routinely before heading out and adding a hat to the exercise outfit. Sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection are also a good idea.

Of course, working out outdoors is just one of the possibilities. Outdoor play is possibly the most time-honored form of outdoor exercise, and your options range from tennis to golf to swimming to biking, kayaking and skating, just to name a few.

With so much to enjoy if we do it carefully, wouldn’t it make sense to check your fitness starting point with us at Global Family Medicine as this outdoor season begins? Just call us at 843-815-6468.