As the air warms, you can look forward to taking your workouts from the gym or basement to the great outdoors. Spring, and time spent in the sun, are great times to get a dose of vitamin D with your daily exercise.
No matter what exercise you choose or your current fitness level, getting outside has numerous health benefits. People who spend 30 minutes or more in greener open spaces have lower rates of depression and hypertension, according to research in the journal Nature.
As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise.
Choose something you enjoy and take it outside on the nicest days with these tips.
Running, Walking and Hiking
Depending on your fitness level, you can start a walking program or shift your running routine from the treadmill to the street.
March, April and May are popular times for 5k runs. Most races raise money for local causes and are laid-back environments that welcome walkers as well as serious runners, so you can find something for your fitness ability or preference.
Feeling less competitive than that? Visit local parks with nature trails for a change of scenery.
Inhale the fresh scents of spring and exhale your worries. Tilt your face to the sun and bask in its warmth. Moving your yoga practice outdoors, whether on your own or in a class, can add new challenges to traditional poses when you're not on a flat surface.
If you're tired of going nowhere on a stationary bike, now's your chance to take what you've gained in spin class and move it outdoors. Whether you bike your neighborhood, go to a park or try mountain biking, cycling gets your heart pumping and builds muscle. Make it a solo event, invite friends or bring the whole family along.
Court and Field Sports
Visit tennis courts in your neighborhood or nearby park, or put together a pick-up game of basketball, beach volleyball, soccer or football. You'll get an aerobic workout while hanging out with your friends.
Safety During Transition
Maybe you've been less active than you'd like over the winter, or maybe you're transitioning activities outside from the indoors. Take a moment to stay safe when starting something new or making a change.
The days are lengthening in the spring, but after work, you may still find yourself running or biking in twilight. Remember to wear reflective gear or have lights on your bike or clothing. And, of course, always wear a helmet when biking.
When running, make sure you have proper shoes that fit well and offer enough support. Running on asphalt is slightly different from running on a treadmill, and the impact is significantly more than when running on an elliptical. Keep your joints protected with supportive gear if needed.
Adjusting Your Workout
Outdoor running requires more use of your hamstrings than running on a treadmill, where the belt gives you more momentum, according to Active.com. As you move your runs outdoors, you may find your pace is slower and your legs fatigue faster. To avoid injury, gradually transition from indoor to outdoor running.
Also, as you shift from a stationary bike to a road or mountain bike, give yourself a chance to find your balance when the bike isn't fixed in place. Start where you're comfortable and build up to a faster pace.
Sun Protection and Hydration
Sun exposure is one of the great benefits of going outdoors for your daily exercise, and small amounts of unprotected exposure give you much-needed vitamin D. However, too much sun is bad for your skin. Remember to cover up and use sunscreen if you're outside for a long time, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You should also do the right type of stretching before and after any workout, even small ones, and remember to keep water with you.
Taking your daily exercise outdoors is a natural mood enhancer. You may even find that you push yourself harder and work out longer just because you're enjoying the fresh air. So embrace the season for a happier workout.