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6 Tips for Resuming Outdoor Exercise this Spring

tips for resuming outdoor exercise

Spring is right around the corner. As the weather starts transitioning from cold, snowy conditions to warmer temperatures, you can reduce the number of days a week you spend in the gym and replace some of those workouts with your favorite outdoor activities. But before you jump right back into outdoor workouts, it’s important to make sure your body is prepared for the differences in indoor vs. outdoor exercise. This is especially true if you have a heart condition.

Gyms are controlled environments, and this impacts both the physical and mental aspects of your workout. The physical demands of exercise equipment are different than engaging in the same activities outdoors. Often, outdoor workouts can be more taxing physically. For example, one study found that individuals engaging in outdoor cycling experienced higher heart rates than people riding exercise bikes.

The mental aspect of your workout also changes significantly when you exercise outside. It’s easy to let your mind drift when you’re working out on a treadmill, exercise bike or some other machine. You can even pass the time watching your favorite TV shows if you prefer. However, exercising outside requires you to pay more attention to your surroundings. You need to be aware of obstacles along the path, changes in surfaces, and the presence of people, vehicles and other potential hazards.

Therefore, it’s always best to resume outdoor exercise with a solid plan. The following tips will help you make this transition as seamless as possible.

Prepare Your Body for the Rigors of Outdoor Exercise

It’s easy to get so excited about being outside in warm weather that you do too much too soon. Due to the difference in the physical demands of exercising outside, this can increase your risk of an injury. If you have a pre-existing heart condition, jumping right back into your peak outdoor exercise routine can be even more dangerous.

You should start increasing the intensity of your indoor workouts two to four weeks before you plan to start exercising outdoors. Gradually increase the incline on your treadmill or the amount of resistance on your exercise bike each week during this ramp-up period. You may also want to gradually increase the duration of your indoor workouts during this time period. This way, your body will be ready for the extra demands of outdoor terrain once you transition back outside.

Ease Back into Your Outdoor Routine

resuming outdoor exercise in springThere’s no need to drop your gym workouts entirely once the weather warms up. Even if you eventually shift to exercising outdoors full-time, there is a benefit to mixing up indoor and outdoor workouts while your body adjusts. This will help you continue to improve your fitness level gradually and safely.

Start by exercising outside once or twice a week and supplementing these workouts with the gym. Remember that spring in the Denver area also has its share of cold, snowy days so you’re not going to be able to exercise outside all the time right away even if you want to. If you plan to keep the gym in your weekly routine, it will help ensure you continue to get the consistent levels of exercise necessary for optimal cardiovascular health.

Vary Up Your Outdoor Exercise Routine

Running and cycling are some of the most popular outdoor exercise activities, but you shouldn’t feel limited to these types of workouts. While cardio workouts are critical to maintaining a healthy heart, you don’t want to sacrifice any strength training work you’ve been doing during the winter months. Strength training is important for building muscle and maintaining proper joint health.

There are many ways to keep up with strength training once you move outdoors in the warm weather. You can use resistance bands, do bodyweight exercises, incorporate dumbbells and other free weights into outdoor workouts, and even do activities such as yoga outside.

You may also try experimenting with new activities to vary your routine and work other muscle groups. Consider activities such as swimming, hiking or team sports to stay engaged in your outdoor workouts. You can also find outdoor workout classes if you prefer the structure of a class.

Listen to Your Body

Always pay attention to your body’s signals so that you don’t overdo it. If you experience any pain or discomfort during your first few outdoor workouts, take a break or make adjustments to prevent an injury. If you have a heart condition, be on the lookout for warning signs of a cardiac event such as chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or dizziness. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising at once and seek medical attention.

You should also build in rest days to your routine. As much as being active outside is great for your mind and body, these rest days are crucial for recovery and muscle growth.

Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen

applying sunscreen before exercising outdoorsSunscreen isn’t a part of your workout routine during the winter, but it should always be worn when exercising outside. It’s easy to forget to apply sunscreen during these first few workouts of the season, and this will expose your skin to harmful UV rays. Make sure to leave your sunscreen with your workout gear so you remember to use it.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can sneak up on you faster than you think during the spring. The weather isn’t as hot as during the summer months, but you can still lose a lot of fluids from sweating. Make sure to drink plenty of water when you resume exercising outdoors.

South Denver Cardiology Associates Can Help

If you have a heart condition, South Denver Cardiology can help you to safely resume outdoor exercise this spring. Our medical fitness gym is a valuable resource to help you develop a heart healthy exercise routine. Our certified exercise specialists will work with you to develop a customized plan that will help you gradually ramp up your outdoor exercise in a way that doesn’t put any unnecessary strain on your heart. We can provide you with the tools you need to exercise safely while improving your heart health.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. South Denver Cardiology Associates serves patients in Denver, Littleton and the surrounding areas of Colorado.

South Denver Cardiology
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