Adding “outdoor days” to your exercise routine calls for some precautions. They are surprisingly easy, but not to be overlooked, even as we reap the benefits of our beautiful climate and environment.

Just about everything good that we get from exercise gets better when we do it outdoors. The change in routine itself brings training benefits, because we are not repeating the same workouts the same way. Beyond that, a host of other benefits come to us when we move our fitness routine outdoors.

Natural light generates essential vitamin D, improves our mood, and, for the many people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, it can be the turning point to a positive outlook. Air quality outdoors is generally two to five times better than indoors, too. Uneven terrain exercises the sense of balance and the body’s response to those subtle signals.

Keeping It Fresh

Suggestions for what to do for exercise outdoors are as abundant as the benefits; the Web is full of lists. Shape Magazine has an interesting list of outdoor workout ideas that focuses on the new and engaging.

Protecting the Skin from Damage

Sunscreen and hats are essential exercise accessories when we move outdoors, because for all its benefits, the sun is a mixed blessing. Protecting ourselves from premature aging and skin cancer calls for applying sunscreen routinely before heading out, and adding a hat to the exercise outfit. And sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection are a good idea.

Worth the Effort

The stimulation our senses receive from exercising outdoors is a natural antidote for the numbing effect that comes from spending 90 percent of our time indoors. Choose to simply move your routine to a site outdoors, run or walk to and from your chosen spot or try a traveling workout in which you stop at intervals for the exercises of your choice as you walk or run in-between.

No matter which style you choose, staying aware of your environment is important for safety, and usually that means skipping the ear buds. Music and motivational recordings have their place, but outdoors you need the awareness that all your senses provide. Besides, it’s a pleasure.

If you run or walk alongside streets or roads, always walk on the side that has you facing traffic. This way you can add your own watchfulness to the safety equation, rather than relying only on the attention of motorists.

Fun and Fitness, Hand in Hand

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

First Find the Starting Line

Just as any sports team would start the season with physical exams, wouldn’t it make sense to check your fitness starting point as this outdoor season begins. Why not schedule an appointment with us at Global Family Medicine? Call us at 843-815-6468.