Transitioning from Indoor to Outdoor Exercise
You've spent all winter working out in your gym, and now the weather finally is mild enough to take it outdoors. You might think that the change of exercise location poses no risk, but there are a few things to keep in mind. You should expect your body to need 2 to 3 weeks of transition time before you can ramp up your outdoor training on the streets or beach. Below are some tips to safely make the transition from working out indoors to outdoors.
- Don't forget the practical things. You're going outside, potentially miles from your home. You should always bring your ID, insurance card and money with you.
- Outdoor exercise is much harder on your joints. If you're used to working out on a treadmill or elliptical, your joints will need to ease into a road workout. Start off running on grass, track or trail. And, if you didn't properly warm-up and stretch before working out at the gym (shame on you!), now would be a good time to start. Your muscles will thank you in the morning.
- Drink plenty of water before and during exercise. You may not have easy and immediate access to water like you do at a gym. Plan accordingly - either bring it along or exercise near water fountains. According to Dr. Marshall, dehydration can lead to more serious health issues and injuries, even for the relatively young and fit. "Don't ignore the basics, especially something as simple as drinking water," he urges. "And if you or a companion begins to feel light-headed, stop exercising immediately and get to a cooler location. If your symptoms don't improve, get medical attention before things escalate."
- For any outdoor exercise or sport, consider these hazardous elements: humidity, sun and allergies. Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, and factor in allergies. Even a 30-minute outdoor swim calls for sunscreen. Take your allergy medicine beforehand or avoid outdoor exercise on high-level days.
- Watch out for traffic. This is especially important for bikers, runners and walkers. While listening to your iPod, don't tune out completely. Be aware of your surroundings: other runners, bicyclists and, most importantly, cars! Also, pebbles and rocks on the treadmill are (we hope) few and far between, but on the road you should pay attention to the terrain and watch out for debris and potholes.
- If you are a spin class devotee, you will need to hone your bike handling skills before hitting the road. You'll also need to factor in the effects of heat, hills and wind on your outdoor training. Start slowly by planning shorter rides on level terrain, gradually increasing the challenges of your route. Additionally, Dr. Marshall stresses the importance of wearing a helmet. "Head injuries to bicyclists are one of the more common summer injuries," Dr. Marshall says.
- You may have mastered all the walls and boulders while climbing for hours at your rock gym, but outdoor climbing is much more dangerous. Take an outdoor climbing transition class. If your indoor climbing class doesn't offer one, check with local climbing groups or outdoor equipment stores.