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How to enjoy the outdoors by getting active and moving!

Spring temperatures are rising it's time to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Below are some tips to keep in mind while you prepare to enjoy your chosen activity.

Warm up before exercising

You should warm up before exercising to help your body get ready for the activity. This prepares your muscles and joints to be used during exercise and prevents injuries.

Some ways you can warm up include:

  • 1-2 minutes of walking at a low intensity (1 or 2 on a scale from 1-10)

  • 5 minutes of stretching that includes arms, legs, back and shoulders

  • 10 deep breaths focusing on your breath flowing in and out of your body

Wear sunscreen

  • Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15. Apply it at least 15-30 minutes before you go outside.

  • Reapply every two hours as well as after swimming or sweating.

  • Use waterproof sunscreen if you are going to be in the water for any amount of time.

Drink plenty of water

When you're outside in the hot and humid of weather, it is important to stay hydrated. As you age, your ability to sense thirst decreases and you may not feel thirsty until you are already dehydrated. Be sure to replace the fluids you lose while working out by drinking enough water to avoid becoming dehydrated. Signs of dehydration to look out for: headache, dizziness or lightheadedness, sleepiness, or dry mouth.

Keep an eye on the heat index

The air temperature is only part of the equation to determine if the environment is safe for outdoor exercise. The heat index takes into account temperature and humidity to give you a good idea of how hot it feels outside. This is important because it is possible to exercise in extreme heat (high 90s or 100 degrees) if the humidity is low, but it's dangerous to work out in 90 degree weather if humidity levels are high. Keep an eye on the heat index when exercising outdoors

Shift your workouts to early mornings or late evenings

If the heat index during the height of the day (usually between 10 AM and 3 PM) is unsafe, you can shift your workouts to the early mornings or late evenings for cooler conditions. This also helps to avoid the sun and crowds at parks, pools, and biking trails.

Take breaks in the shade

If you become hot and sweaty while exercising outside, take a break. If you start to feel light-headed or dizzy, you should also stop exercising right away and sit down or lie down in the shade. If possible put your feet up. Drink plenty of water while resting—and avoid caffeine and alcohol at this time. It's important to be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness or weakness, dizziness or fainting, headache nausea or vomiting, and rapid heartbeat. If you experience any of these symptoms it's important to get out of the heat right away into a cool area (like an air-conditioned room).

Be aware of where you're walking

Uneven sidewalks, muddy ground, and puddles can be obstacles in your outdoor exercise path. Some streets can have their sidewalks terminate before reaching an intersection which can lead to an unsafe pedestrian environment. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your exercise route beforehand. The Google Maps Street View feature allows you to virtually "walk" almost every street in the country and is a handy tool for scouting out new exercise routes.

Wear breathable fabrics

Be sure to wear breathable fabrics when you exercise outside, especially in the summer. The summer heat can quickly cause your body to feel hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable. An example of a breathable fabric that can help keep you cool while exercising is silk. Silk allows fresh air to circulate around your body while also allowing sweat to evaporate from your skin more easily. Cotton is another example of a breathable fabric that will help keep you cool in the summertime during outdoor exercise activities. However, cotton may not provide enough warmth for outdoor exercise during cold winter days or nights so be mindful of the weather forecast before going outside for a jog or run on cold days or nights.

Do you have any tips for making outdoor exercise?

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