Probably the biggest aversion to outdoor exercise is the weather. Sure, you could just go join a gym — have a controlled temperature, with a controlled level of humidity, and be completely dry (well except for the sweat) every session, every day. But when there are so many additional health benefits to outdoor exercise, who wants to make every session a gym session?
I exercise outside all the time. I love outdoor exercise. While working out in a gym might provide a bit more comfort, particularly when the weather outside isn’t ideal, breathing fresh air while you’re exercising is much better for you than recycled, conditioned air, especially if you work in an office all day. Research is beginning to support all kinds of benefits to outdoor exercise, even in as little as just 5 minutes.
...outdoor exercise is great fun and very good for you! You may have to modify your workouts from time to time to suit the weather; but hey, that’s just means you get lots of variety.
Studies are beginning to show that outdoor exercise can boost your self-esteem and mood. One study from the University of Essex in 2010, showed that this can occur from just 5 minutes of exercise outside. Sunlight is also important for vitamin D production. And it doesn’t have to be direct sunlight. Studies show that vitamin D may protect you against depression, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and stroke. In addition, some studies are now also showing that outdoor physical activity can increase your ability to concentrate. At this stage, these studies have only been conducted with ADHD children, but it opens the door to further research.
To take advantage of the benefits of outdoor exercise, here are some exercise ideas, even when the weather might not be perfect.
Exercise Ideas for Different Types of Weather
- Too wet
The biggest problem when it’s raining, whether you’re on concrete or grass, is it’s slippery. If it’s a cardio session you’re doing, head to the athletics track and burn up the rubber. The surface is less slippery and if you’re really concerned, get yourself a set of spikes and pretend to be Usain Bolt or Mo Farah. If you want to do a strength workout, training in the rain is the best. It might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but once you’re soaked, which might only take 30 seconds, you’ll feel like a kid again. I can’t express how much fun training in the rain is!
- Too hot
Heat can be problematic when it comes to exercise. The body heats up when you exercise, so if it’s already environmentally hot, you can potentially overheat. You need to raise your core body temperature quite a bit for it to be dangerous, and there’s usually plenty of obvious signs telling you to slow down before you reach a critical point, but listen to your body and have cooling strategies in place for when you finish. The best method for cooling your core body temp is an ice bath. If you don’t have access to an ice bath, an ice slushy is effective with a cool shower. The types of workouts you can do to avoid overheating are low-impact exercises such as squats, lunges, push ups and pull ups. Even simple stretching can be effective.
- Too sunny
If your problem is that it’s too sunny, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re exercising in the middle of the day. You have to be careful training when it’s hot and sunny. Solar radiation can burn your skin and make you dizzy, potentially leading to fainting. Obviously if you collapse, that could have dire consequences. So, if you want to exercise in the middle of the day when it’s sunny, find a nice big tree to train under. You can do a workout that requires minimal space consisting of exercises such as push ups, squats, high knees, star jumps, and if you’re up to it, burpees.
- Too cold
I don’t have this issue where I live but the biggest challenge with exercise when it’s too cold is getting started. It can be uncomfortable, especially if it’s cold and wet. Start with enough clothing to keep you warm and ensure you do a thorough warm up. Start with some walking and increase that to some jogging before running. Get your blood flow pumping and follow that up with some conservative dynamic stretches such as leg swings forward and back, and side-to-side. Roll your arms over with some big arm circles too. As you feel your body warm up, reduce your layers of clothing until you find a comfortable level. Cooling down when it’s cold is just as important. Finish with some gentle movement such as walking to let your heart rate slow down gradually, and thus your blood flow too.
- It’s snowing
I certainly don’t have this issue. But if I did, I wouldn’t be doing a workout. I’d be strapping on my boots and board (that I unfortunately haven’t used in like 8 years) and I’d be carving down a mountain. And if it’s snowing in the city, my suggestion is, ball it up and throw it at whoever’s close. Then run!
In summary, outdoor exercise is great fun and very good for you! You may have to modify your workouts from time to time to suit the weather; but hey, that’s just means you get lots of variety. Even in the most uncomfortable and challenging of weather, there’s always plenty of exercise ideas to suit.
Question: Do you exercise outdoors? If so, what types of exercises do you do for different types of weather? Leave your questions and comments in the discussion section below.
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