June 26, 2009

Go Outdoors For Summer Workouts

If the summer sun is calling you outdoors, your workout can be just as effective with a little planning, according to a Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) expert.

Dr. Patrick McCulloch (http://www.bcm.edu/ortho/mcculloch.htm), assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at BCM in Houston, said when switching from running on the treadmill to outdoors, cut back on mileage and time initially to allow your body to get used to increased stress because of the heat.  He also suggests a gravel or a rubberized track, which is better for joints in the long run.

Push-ups, pull-ups and dips are good supplements to weight lifting.  Many local parks also have circuit training stations, which can be just as beneficial to overall strength and conditioning, said McCulloch.  

Due to the high heat and humidity, it remains important to avoid heat illness by staying properly hydrated.  To avoid dehydration, exercise in the early morning or late evening, and weigh yourself before and after you work out to see how much water weight you lose during a typical workout.  This gives you an idea of how much water you should be drinking.

"Replace fluids before you get thirsty because when you're thirsty, you're already over 20 percent dehydrated," he said.

Bicycling outdoors can be much more enjoyable in sunny weather rather than sitting on a stationary bike.  Be sure to wear a proper-fitting safety helmet and beware of traffic.

For any outdoor activity, remember to put on sunscreen and wear proper safety gear.  

McCulloch recommends consulting a physician when beginning a new exercise program.

"It is important to vary the course of your workout throughout the year to avoid burnout, to keep it interesting and avoid injury.  While the weather is nice, that affords a nice opportunity to do your exercises in a little bit different fashion," McCulloch said.  


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