Exercising Outdoors

Exercising outdoors

Exercising outside the home offers additional benefits and opens up a whole new range of possible activities. These need not involve joining a class or club; many activities can safely be carried out alone and unsupervised, although it may be fun to exercise with friends. When choosing a new activity, it should be remembered that additional safety issues – arise when training outdoors. Exercising outdoors is an appealing option for many people. There is a diverse range of activities, from jogging to skating.

BENEFITS OF EXERCISING OUTDOORS

If exercising at home is difficult, due to lack of space or constant interruptions, going for a run or to the local swimming pool can be a good solution. For those who are at home most of the day, exercising in the same confined space can become boring, whereas running, cycling or jogging offer the opportunity to get out of doors and to vary the route taken from day to day.

Exercising outdoors may enhance mood in that there is the benefit of fresh air and sunshine, which is thought to help ward off depression (and sunlight on the skin is necessary for the production of vitamin D). Exercising in picturesque surroundings can be particularly therapeutic.

SAFETY

For many city dwellers, the outdoors consists of dangerously busy and noisy main roads and polluted air, neither of which are conducive to a positive exercise experience. Isolated places may be attractive, but can pose risks for personal safety. When exercising outdoors, weather conditions also need to be considered.

A safe place

Traffic poses a major problem for anyone exercising on city streets. During the summer, heavy pollution in cities can be a health risk for walkers, joggers and cyclists. Ideally, try to exercise in parks and green spaces, or wherever traffic is banned. (When in-line skating or skateboarding, ensure that the activity is permitted and respect the safety of pedestrians.) If there is no green space nearby, keep to quiet side streets to avoid traffic fumes, but remain alert for cars. Listening to loud music on a personal stereo is not advisable because warning sounds of approaching traffic are blocked out.

Isolated areas pose their own risks. Anyone can be vulnerable to personal attack, but women and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Dark and deserted areas are best avoided. Another consideration is the possibility of sustaining an injury where there is no one around to help. An individual should let someone know where he is going and when he intends to return.

Water sports should be carried out where they are permitted – if they are forbidden, it is often for reasons of safety. When going out alone in the sea, a river or a lake, an individual should ask someone responsible to watch that he comes in safely.

A safe time

For many people, the evening is the only time available for exercise. This should not be a problem, provided that basic safety rules are observed. Deserted places are best avoided after dark, particularly by women. If at all possible, choose a time of day when there are people around; alternatively, exercise with a friend or in a group. While exercising on busy streets, it is necessary to ensure visibility to traffic, so luminous arm and ankle bands or luminous clothing should be worn.

A safe temperature

Extremes of temperature should be avoided. During the heat of the summer, it is advisable to avoid exercising around midday, when the sun is high in the sky. If you are planning to be out for some time, wear a hat and cover up with a lightweight cotton top; light colours are best, because they reflect the heat. It is advisable to wear a sunscreen to protect exposed skin from the harmful effects of radiation. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above. Some sunscreens, aimed specifically at exercisers, are claimed to be sweatproof. It is vital to replace lost fluids in the heat, so take a drink – a water bottle can be carried in the hand or attaFched to a belt – or take money to buy a drink.

During cold weather, wear layers of clothing that can be removed and tied around the waist as the body heats up; layers of cotton clothing are best for soaking up perspiration. A light waterproof jacket, hat or earmuffs and gloves are essential.