Working Out Outside: Dos and Don’ts

Sometimes, spending countless hours in the gym can start to get to you. While you can get in a great routine on effective equipment, it’s not always motivating to immerse yourself in the same scenery and use the same equipment. 

Working out outside can be just what you need to boost your motivation and switch things up. Plus, there are countless benefits to getting active outdoors. Training in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood, boost your energy levels, and even lower your blood pressure. 

Whether you’re new to outdoor workouts or you’ve been “stuck” in the gym for a while and want to return to an old routine outside, there are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind. Knowing what to do (and what not to do) to get the most from your outdoor workout will inspire you to push harder, try new things, and up your training game in ways you never thought possible. 

So, what are some of those dos and don’ts? 

Do: Mix Up Your Workouts

One of the great things about working out outside is that the world is your playground. Or, your gym, depending on how you look at it.  

Unlike going to an indoor gym, there are endless opportunities to mix things up and try something different outside. If there’s a park nearby your house, you could end up using the equipment for strength training exercises and be more flexible than you ever could in the gym. 

If you have a group of friends who also wants to stay active and fit, consider putting together a pick-up basketball or football team. Other ideas for great outdoor workouts include: 

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Skiing 
  • Distance running
  • Bike riding

By mixing up your workouts, you’re more likely to have fun staying active.  If you’ve gotten stagnant in the gym or your motivation has been low, trying different routines outdoors can help you to find your spark and passion for fitness and training again. 

Don’t: Increase Your Risk of Injury

You can get injured no matter where you work out. Even in the gym, it’s important to practice proper form, know how to use the right equipment, and be aware of your surroundings. 

Outside, however, the risks increase. Your surroundings are always changing, and there are more variables to consider that could be potential threats. Thankfully, most outdoor safety tips are pretty easy to follow with a little planning ahead. Some of the easiest ways to keep yourself from getting injured are:

  • Wear protective gear
  • Use a high SPF sunscreen
  • Stay hydrated
  • Fuel your body the right way before your workout
  • Take extra care during extremely hot weather

It’s also important to stay connected with your doctor (telemedicine has made this easier than ever!), or at least have access to medical care when you’re working out outside. If you do happen to get injured, or even if you feel dizzy or extremely fatigued, getting help immediately is crucial. If you don’t have a primary care physician and you experience a straightforward injury while working out, consider going to an urgent care facility for help. Trying to be overly “tough” and fight through the pain of an injury is never a good idea and could end up keeping you out of training for weeks while you recover. 

Do: Maximize Your Benefits

Taking your workout outdoors is a great way to experience new and different benefits that you don’t always get inside of a gym. 

For starters, simply being outside can help to boost your mood and energy levels. Staying physically active in nature can be just as good for your mental health as your physical health. If you’ve started to feel overly stressed or anxious lately, that can be enough reason on its own to make a switch and step outside. 

Even if you’ve already been working out outside, there’s a good chance you aren’t maximizing the benefits of your endless open gym. You can take your endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance further than ever before. 

Outdoor workouts like hiking, swimming, and running are all fantastic stamina builders and can help you to increase your endurance while having fun. That can eventually translate into having more stamina during a fight or a longer training session in the gym. You’ll improve your cardiovascular health in a way that would be twice as hard on a treadmill. 

When it comes to strength, outdoor activities can help you to utilize your muscles in different and practical ways. Chopping wood or climbing on a jungle gym causes you to use your weight differently than lifting a dumbbell. 

There’s a reason the classic “training montage” in Rocky III has stayed in people’s minds for decades. Sure, Rocky spent time in the gym, but what do you remember most about that montage? For most people, it’s the image of him running up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Could he have spent just as much time and energy on a stair-stepper or elliptical? Sure. But, aside from it not being very exciting for the movie, there’s not a lot of flexibility and gritty stamina in that. 

That doesn’t mean you have to be the next Rocky while you’re working out, and you definitely don’t have to start eating raw eggs. But, consider taking your training sessions outside and pay attention to the dos and don’ts that will make a difference in your performance. It won’t take long to see incredible results and to feel the benefits that being outside has to offer. 

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