Fitness

Step Outside For Spring

Make the transition to exercising outside again.

After working out with your favourite fitness videos all winter long, you may feel like you have your weekly workout routine down to a science. Little is required of you: load up a clip online or pop in a DVD and follow the motions without even stepping outside the comfortable confines of your home. But with spring finally here, the outdoors beckons — the fresh air, the small buds that decorate the limbs of trees, the slowly warming temperatures — making it a great time to mix up your exercise routine and reinvigorate your workout.

"It's important for people to get outside after they have been staring at the television screen all winter," says Michael Schwartz, a weight and conditioning specialist. "When you're outside, you get more of a sense of what your body can really do." That said, it's important to make a smooth transition to the great outdoors. "People get spring fever, rush outside, and forget about the possibility of getting injured," warns Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. "Most people can't exercise at the same intensity outside as they do inside." Keep the following suggestions in mind as you ease your exercise routine into the exhilarating outdoors:

  • Inside-out: For starters, take your indoor activities outside. "If you've been working out to a specific video for most of the winter, chances are you know the routine pretty well," says Bryant. "Take some portable music and replicate that routine. You'll get the best of both worlds."
  • Dress code: Dress in layers, suggests Bryant. Should you get warm while working out, you can peel the layers off.
  • Hydration: Remember to drink plenty of fluids. Always carry a bottle of water with you when you're working out, suggests Schwartz.
  • Sun-conscious: If the sun is shining, remember to use sun block (SPF 15 or greater) before heading out for your workout, says Schwartz.
  • Nature's jungle gym: Explore different outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing. "These kinds of activities will give your body and mind a new challenge," explains Bryant.
  • Outdoor circuits: Try out a circuit workout. Most public parks and community areas offer free circuit courses, with workout areas for sit-ups or stretches, says Bryant. You can also create your own workout routine that can be done with common outdoor objects, such as park benches or steps. For example, Schwartz suggests trying bench dips between brief periods of brisk walking: Sit on a bench with your fingers gripping the edge. With a smooth, controlled motion, slide your hips forward and lower yourself down several inches below the height of the bench. Knees are slightly bent, feet on the ground. Start with 2 or 3 repetitions, and work your way toward 10 to 12 repetitions in the space of a minute.