There are a ton of great benefits to exercising outdoors this time of year. When you run or bike outside, you typically get a more strenuous workout than you would on a treadmill or stationary bike. Your body has a chance to soak up more Vitamin D from the sun, and people report feeling less stressed and happier when they engage in physical activity in nature.

In typical Ohio fashion, the hottest days of the year still may be headed our way. As you take to a park, your neighborhood or the recreational path system, here are some things to remember from our Fitness & Wellness Program Supervisor, Megan, to have a productive, positive and safe workout.

  • Pick the right time, sunrise or sunset. Your best bet on a hot day is to head out in the early morning or evening when your shadow is twice as long as you are tall. According to the National Weather Service, exposure to direct sunlight can increase how hot it feels by as much as 15 degrees.
  • The more humid it becomes, the less your sweat evaporates from your skin. This means your body’s key cooling mechanism is disabled. Go easy or go inside.
  • Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine say to stay well hydrated throughout the day by drinking at least eight cups of water, and then make sure to have eight to 12 ounces about 15 minutes prior to your outdoor exercise session. Sip three to eight ounces every 15 or 20 minutes as you exercise, and don’t forget to drink after you’re finished working out.
  • Don’t forget to use sunscreen and when possible take shaded trails or pathway.
  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing to help keep you cool.
  • Eat snacks to maintain energy. Choose a juicy snack like fruit and avoid snacks like crackers that require your body to add water to consume.
  • Carry some form of identification on you. Ideally, you should have your driver’s license and/or a small card that lists your phone number and the number of an emergency contact. Additionally, bringing your cell phone allows you to stay touch with family and friends and, if necessary, connect you with emergency services.
  • Exercising with a partner or group can be a great motivator, but it also reduces your chance of being targeted. If one of you should get injured or sick, the other person is there to get help and reduce your vulnerability. If exercising alone, make sure someone close to you knows when you are exercising, where you are going and when you are expected back.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. It is best to be very familiar with your exercise route and know of any areas which may be potentially dangerous. It is great to get into the “zone” while exercising, but make sure to stay aware of where you are, who is around you and where you are going.
  • Listen to your body.  Stop immediately and take a break if you’re feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous.

If you are interested in structured exercise, each Saturday morning through November a group of walkers meets to jump-start the weekend with an hour walk and some sight-seeing along the way. For details on this program, click here.