How to Stay Safe While Exercising Outdoors

As days get longer and temperatures get warmer, the great outdoors will be calling your name! Taking your workouts outside from time to time will certainly help keep your fitness routine fresh. The new scenery and unique challenges may even help you break through fitness plateaus.

Of course, there are a few considerations unique to exercising outdoors. So let’s take a look!

If exercising alone outdoors, safety should be your first concern:

  • Identification – Make sure you have identification on you; Road ID has great options to protect the outdoor exerciser in case of emergency. If you use your phone for music or tracking, have an ICE (in case of emergency) in your phone.
  • Clothing – Make sure you are visible to motorists—whether you’re exercising day or night—and wear brightly colored clothing and reflective gear dusk onward.
  • Companions – You might want to bring along a friend or a dog to keep you company. Not only can a companion help in case of emergency, but you are less likely to be approached when working out with others.

Whether alone, or with a group of people, heat is your biggest concern:

  • Timing – Exercising earlier in the morning or later in the evening will help with potential heat issues. Avoid exercising during the hottest times of the day and if there’s shade available, take advantage.
  • Hydration – Stay hydrated; make sure to hydrate prior to even walking out the door. Once outside, bring a water bottle with you and ensure you get through at least one water bottle while you’re working out.
  • Clothing – Lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics are the best for outdoors. If you’re exercising in the morning hours when it’s a bit cooler, be sure to layer.
  • Know the Signs – Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be dangerous side effects of exercising outdoors in the heat. Taking care to hydrate and choosing light clothing will help, but knowing the signs that heat is taking its toll is of utmost importance when you head outdoors. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when the body can no longer sustain the pace, heat, humidity, or the loss of fluids (sweat). Pay attention to the following signs that could signal heat issues: fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, and increased body temperature. If you take time to acclimate to warmer temperatures, slow down and expect a bit less of yourself and pay attention to timing, hydration, and your clothing, you will decrease your risk of heat-related illness when exercising outdoors.

You may want to consult your doctor or pharmacist before you take your workouts outdoors. There are many medications that can exacerbate the effects of heat-related illness. Decongestants, antihistamines, appetite suppressants, antihypertensives, antidepressants, and even caffeine can cause quicker dehydration and decrease your body’s ability to recognize danger. Check with a medical professional if you believe your medications may adversely affect your outdoor workouts.

Finally, above all else, use common sense! If you’re not feeling well, stop. When exercising outdoors, you may to eliminate your “gotta get through this” mentality, but your body may be trying to tell you something. Exercising outdoors can be a fantastic way to get some Vitamin D while keeping your workouts exciting. Utilize these tips to make the most out of your summer workouts.

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Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is the VP of Fitness Programming for the FIT4MOM® franchise. For more than two decades, she has helped impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn®, Power Systems, ACE, Silver Sneakers, and BOSU® as a fitness business and programming consultant. An experienced educator, freelance writer, and certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach, she helps fitness entrepreneurs navigate the industry and make more money. Fable serves as Vice Chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the founder and co-owner of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool.