The sun has been shining, the birds have been calling, and the squirrels have been scampering. Over the last few days, Mother Nature has given us a taste of what is to come. If you are like me, you have been eager to head outdoors for a little pre-Spring physical activity. But before you do, follow the tips outlined below to ensure that your transition to exercise in the open-air is a safe and enjoyable one.
- Health check. If the winter months kept you hibernating indoors, with no or little participation in exercise, you'll want to schedule a visit with your physician to rule out any health conditions that need to be treated or managed prior to beginning an exercise program.
- Not so fast! The sun can be invigorating and boost your spirits, perhaps even to the point where you feel invincible and ready to tackle it all. But, if your body has been as dormant as the grass that lies beneath the snow, you'll want to take it slow your first few days out. Reduce the intensity and/or duration of your outdoor exercise from where you left off last fall. Gradually increase the workload by 10-20% every two weeks until you are back up to speed. By so doing, you'll prevent the aches and pains of your joints and muscles that can occur if you begin an exercise program too abruptly.
- Prepare for an emergency. Carry a cell phone, bring/wear identification, and take money with you.
- Watch for uneven sidewalks, raised cement, cracks, and potholes. You may have walked the route a hundred times last summer without a problem, but keep in mind the toll that early Spring's cycle of thaw-and-freeze can take on cement and asphalt. These hazards can quickly turn a brisk walk into a fall, resulting in injury.
- Watch out for the ice! The days are getting warmer, but the nights are still cold enough to cause what thawed during the day to freeze. Patches of ice are more likely to be encountered during the early morning and late evening hours.
- Be alert! Be on the look out for cars. Drivers may have forgotten that they need to share the road with walkers, runners, bikers, etc., due to a decrease in pedestrian activity during the winter months; therefore, your presence may be unexpected. Wear reflective attire/gear so that you are noticeable. Cross roads at intersections. Runners and walkers should face on-coming traffic. Bikers should follow the flow of traffic.
- Update your attire. Now may be a good time to invest in new exercise clothes and footwear. Tighter fitting exercise clothes as a result of winter weight gain can restrict blood flow to working muscles and even impinge on a nerve resulting in discomfort. Investing in exercise clothes that fit properly now will ward off potential costly complications later. Inspection of exercise shoes is warranted as well. Replace shoes that are past their prime.
Welcome the coming of warmer and longer days by taking your physical activity outdoors. Invite a friend or two. Make this Spring the season that you and yours become fit and healthy.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Labels: exercise safety tips, exercising outdoors, spring exercise