As the weather warms and the days lengthen, we see more people outside working in the yard, walking or running on the streets, riding bikes, or even swimming. Spring and early summer often provide us with greater opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and even many races and competitions are scheduled to push us a little further. As we get more active, it is important that we take special care to do it right. Let me give you several suggestions to help you enjoy your outdoor activities, stay active and limit injury or other difficulties.
1. Wear Appropriate Clothing. Just as you wouldn’t wear jeans to swim (unless you’re a Boy Scout earning the Swimming merit badge), you should wear appropriate clothing for the activities you are participating in. Exercise clothing are often designed to help wick moisture away from the body and maintain a good body temperature. Running shoes help facilitate the functioning of the foot, while protecting the feet from injury on the asphalt or cement that we commonly run on. Barefoot activities, even around your own yard, should be done with great care to minimize injury from items that may cause cuts, bruises or even fractures. Flip flops are probably less beneficial than the barefoot, because a flip flop provides a false sense of security without the protection.
2. Maintain Proper Fluids. Since the bodies regular functions are based on the fluid content of the cells, it is imperative that dehydration be minimized by proper fluid intake. The best fluids to restore fluids lost include water, and sports drinks (that provide necessary electrolytes). Juices and punches will provide less benefit, whereas soft drinks will often have detrimental effects on fluid levels due to other substances that can add to dehydration. Since it is recommended that on a normal day we drink 6-8 cups of water, significantly more water should be utilized on a warm day to help maintain regular fluid loads. A great indicator of the proper fluid intake is the color of your urine – Clear means a proper level of fluid intake.
3. Avoid Sun Damage To Skin. I recently found myself in the sun without the proper sunscreen. Although not outside for much more than 1 hour, I damaged my skin with a sunburn. Many of us like the tan color of the skin, but fail to consider the possible damage that sun can cause for the skin. Appropriate sunscreen, hats, long sleeved/legged clothing, closed shoes may all be appropriate to limit the burning or damaging of the skin. Although we do get beneficial vitamin D from the sun, we should limit risks of skin diseases or cancers from too much exposure. Proper care can allow us to enjoy the sun without risks of other concerns. Besides, who wants to have a face, nose, arms, legs or even feet that hurt from a sunburn. Remember those feet when avoiding burns, because sandals or flip flops don’t preclude skin injury.
4. Prepare Appropriately For Activities. Although we have discussed clothing, fluids and sunscreen for activities, we also shouldn’t forget preparing appropriately for the activities. Exercise should be started slowly, especially as the heat increases. Proper nutrition will also help you function more appropriately in any activity from gardening to waterskiing, swimming to biking. Even a relaxed walk through the neighborhood will be more enjoyable if proper preparation was done beforehand. Appropriate stretching activities are among the necessary preparations for many activities.
5. Make Time For Activities You Enjoy. With the warming weather comes increased responsibilities outside, from mowing lawns to pulling weeds. I strongly recommend making time for the activities you enjoy. Some of my favorite activities for the summer include camping, barbeques, swimming and running. Making time for these activities increases my enjoyment of the warmer weather.
6. Add Exercise To The Activities You Do. One of the most important activities to increased health and greater enjoyment of the warming weather is exercise. Whether an activity you enjoy (I love to run, for example) or just a necessary “evil”, make a plan to participate in 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week. You will be amazed, after you get past the initial soreness, at the increased energy, the ability to accomplish more and the increased alertness of your mind from exercise. The body thrives on the hormones released with exercise and functions better in all other activities. If you need assistance getting started on an exercise program, we would love to provide you the help you deserve.
7. Spend Time With Those You Love. The last key to enjoying your spring/summer activities is doing them with those you love. It is always more enjoyable to surround yourself with good people.
May you enjoy this warming weather and stay safe and injury free!