7 Steps to Safe Summer Workouts
With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, it’s a great time to bring your workout outside. “Sunshine helps your body produce vitamin D, which maintains healthy bones and protects against disease, and spending time in nature can help reduce stress,” says Kylene Spalding, Director of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Services at TriHealth’s McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital.
Still, outdoor exercisers can encounter problems—everything from sunburn to slips and falls. To minimize the risks, take these simple steps:
1. Choose a Safe Workout
“If you have ankle, knee, hip or spine arthritis, even walking can be hard on the joints,” says Spalding. “You’re better off with a no-impact workout, like bike riding or swimming.” To strengthen arthritic knees, try squats or lunges. Spalding also suggests sitting and rising from a chair without using your hands. “Start with about 10 repetitions,” she says.
2. Find the Right Location
For many people, a sidewalk or boardwalk is ideal because the surface is usually level, but if you have any pain in your knees, the track at your local high school might be a better option. No matter where you exercise, always be alert for upcoming changes in terrain that might affect your footing, like a variation in sidewalk height due to a driveway.
3. Slather on Sunscreen
You’re at risk for sunburn, even on cloudy days. Choose a water-resistant, broad spectrum product—one that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays—with an SPF of 30 or higher.
4. Watch the Weather
On chilly mornings, wear a moisture-wicking layer first,” advises Spalding. “Otherwise, when you sweat, you’ll get cold.” As summer heats up, avoid vigorous exercise at the hottest time of day and pay attention to the heat index—it provides a more accurate gauge as to whether it’s safe to exercise.
If you’ll be walking, biking or running in full sun, add another 15 degrees to the heat index. If it’s above 80 degrees, consider exercising indoors instead to avoid the risk of heat sickness.
5. Make Yourself Visible
Wear reflective gear if you’re planning to exercise at dusk or in the evening. Bring a flashlight or choose an area that’s well lit.
6. Warm Up to Avoid Injuries
“If you plan to exercise vigorously, try marching, walking or jogging for about 10 minutes beforehand,” says Spalding.
7. Adjust Your Earbuds
Listening to music or a podcast? Keep the volume low so that you’re tuned into your surroundings and your hearing is protected.