By Leah Wagner, MS, Wellness Director at Westminster Village
Staying safe while you exercise outdoors is always important whether you have exercised for years or have not been active for a while. There are many benefits to exercising outside such as improves mood, lowers blood pressure, decreases stress, provides Vitamin D from the sun, improves quality of sleep, saves time, and best of all—it’s free. If you are ready to take your workouts outside this summer to soak up some sun or enjoy the great outdoors, know there are some necessary precautions to take into consideration before you step outside.
First, always check the weather. If it is raining or too hot, you may want to consider dressing properly for the weather. Under conditions of rain, you can wear a hat or visor with a brim to keep the rain out of your face along with a lightweight waterproof jacket, or simply bring an umbrella. When exercising in heat, wear light-colored, sweat-wicking clothing. It is also important to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and sunscreen. Do not forget to reapply the sunscreen according to the directions on the package. It is hard for your body to cool itself when you have a sunburn. Choose areas that provide shade so you can take opportunities to get out of the direct sunlight. A hat with a brim is also a good accessory when exercising in the heat. One that has a wide brim that covers not only your eyes but also your ears is best. Most importantly, consider staying indoors if there is thunder and lightning, or if it is extremely hot.
No matter the weather, always bring a water bottle to stay hydrated or plan your workout around places where drinking water is available. Take a drink at least every 15 minutes, even if you are not feeling thirsty. Make sure to also have a glass or two before and after your workout. Another easy way to beat the heat is to get into the water. Whether you enjoy swimming laps or water aerobics, exercising in the water has many benefits. Water exercise is low impact, which means less stress is placed on your joints and muscles. There is less concern for injury when working out in the water, in fact, it helps those who are injured move easier. It is also great for total body conditioning and cardiovascular health. Just being in the water is known to reduce high blood pressure and mental stress.
If you are trying exercise outside during the summer for the first time, you will want to begin your exercise program slowly with low-intensity exercises like swimming or walking and gradually increase your time and effort. Always listen to your body. Hold off on exercise when you are sick or feeling very fatigued. While you exercise, your breathing may become faster, but you should still be able to hold a conversation. Do not forget to pace yourself, too. If you experience any pain or dizziness, be sure to take a break and relax. Contact your physician if any pain or dizziness does not go away. Almost anyone at any age can exercise safely outside during the summer months and gain meaningful benefits, even those with specific health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis. It is always recommended to receive clearance from you physician first before beginning any new exercise program.
For more information on recommendations for exercise please visit the American College of Sports Medicine at www.acsm.org.
Westminster Village is a continuing care retirement community, located at 2025 East Lincoln Street in Bloomington. Celebrating life, our mission is to provide excellence in senior living through a continuum of care and services. For more information, contact them at 309-663-6474 or visit www.westminstervillageinc.com.