After being cooped up in a gym all winter, or even spending several months without exercising much, many people flock to the great outdoors to exercise when the weather warms up. Being outdoors, you’ll have a chance to enjoy fresh air, see interesting scenery, and get your workout without having to pay a gym membership. However, you’ll want to invest in a few essential pieces of gear to help you get the most out of your outdoor workouts.
Fitness Watch: It’s hard to track your progress toward your fitness goals if you don’t know how long you’re exercising and how fast you’re going. Look at fitness watches and pick one with all the features you need, which may include a stopwatch, GPS sensors to track your pace and distance, and even a built-in heart rate monitor. Even a basic watch is enough for interval workouts, which are one of the best ways to burn calories. By exercising in cycles of high intensity for a minute or two and lower intensity for a minute or two, you’ll push your body harder and gain cardiovascular benefits faster than you would exercising at a moderate intensity the whole time.
Heart Rate Monitor: If you don’t get a watch with a built-in heart rate monitor, you may want to get a separate monitor. You can strap it around your body, and it automatically tracks your heart rate at each moment in your workout. That way you know what intensity level you’re exercising at, and can adjust your speed and intensity accordingly. Many monitors let you download data to a computer or phone to analyze trends. You may even notice that your heart rate is lower when you’re going your usual pace, which is a sure sign of increased cardiovascular fitness.
Summer Gear: As the warmer weather moves in, you’ll need gear to keep you cool and protected this summer. In particular, choose exercise clothing made from materials that keep moisture away from your skin, rather than leaving it to get hot and clammy. In addition, high-performance sunglasses will protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun and help you avoid glare so you aren’t squinting during your outdoor workouts. Alternately, you may opt for a hat or visor, which also keeps your face from getting sunburned.
Water Bottle: Especially if you’re planning to head out for a long workout, you’ll want to bring water with you so you can stay hydrated in the summer heat. Dehydration is very dangerous, and can even cause you to require hospitalization. Therefore, choose a water belt, camel-style backpack, or just a water bottle you can carry with you as you exercise. The recommended amount is 8 ounces for every 15 minutes you exercise, which is about 1 quart per hour. In extremely hot weather or high-intensity workouts, you may need even more than this.
Grab your gear and an exercise buddy and hit the streets for some fun workouts this summer. Many communities have groups of runners, cyclists, and others who get together regularly to exercise, so you can even look into joining one of these for added motivation.