Springtime Exercise Tips for the Outdoors

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Image by Tony Alter

The temperature is finally going up, and the gateway season to the summer has arrived: Springtime! Everyone is making their way outside, but with all the beauty of the Spring comes some not-so-great parts about the season: pollen, allergies, sneezing, itchy eyes, and using lots of tissues. All of these are valid reasons why you’ll want to avoid spending time outside as much as possible––understandable. But you also don’t want to stop your exercise routine if you can help it. So what are you to do?! I’ve got some tips that’ll help you get motivated to keep active in the Spring.

Do Some Spring Cleaning

I think there’s no better way to get ready for a new season than getting rid of your old and worn out exercise gear. Donate those old running shoes, and get a new pair to start breaking them in. Bring out your layering items and your thinner clothing for some air flow as you start to warm up during your workout. Even though it isn’t summer, your body will feel like it’s 20 degrees warmer when you’re out running or engaging in intense physical activity, so this is something to keep in mind when deciding what to wear and when cleaning out your closet.

Sign Up for Outdoor Fun

Another way to get yourself motivated is to sign up for some outdoor fitness classes or a road race! Spring is a time for fitness, and in most areas, there are a ton of things going on that you can get involved in: outdoor pilates and yoga, recreational sports, group runs and bike rides, hiking, and walking tours to name a few.

If you don’t find outdoor events like these near you, then grab a friend and go for your workout together, maybe even try something new. You can take a class at a local gym or YMCA in something you haven’t done before, and then, take it outside to your back yard!

Take Precautions

Yes, those dreaded allergies and pollen need to be taken into consideration. Many of us endure those seasonal (or year-long) runny noses, itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing (especially if you have asthma). They’re a bother, but having these issues doesn’t mean you can’t exercise outside. You can––you’ll just have to take some steps first in order to maximize your workout, and keep yourself healthy.

Pay attention to the news and calendar.

Days with high pollen count are usually predictable, so bookmark your local news site or have that TV channel handy for to know what the day’s going to be like. If it’s dangerously high, that’s your day to exercise indoors. Spring is also a time where weather’s known to fluctuate every day; it can be rainy, sunny, warm, or cold. Pollen count is usually highest in warm, dry, and breezy temperatures, and mold can be at its highest on warm and humid days, especially after rain. Pollen and mold are at their lowest levels when it’s chilly and wet. So even though it may be damp out, if you dress appropriately, it may be your best day to get outside!

Weather sites are a great resource to find out when allergy season hits its highest and how it compares to previous years, which is helpful to know what to expect. If you take medicine for your allergies, doctors typically recommend starting to take it before the season starts. And if you’re asthmatic, this is definitely the time to have your inhaler prescription refilled.

Go outside only at the right time.

In the summer, we have to get out early to avoid the heat. But in the Spring, timing your outdoor workout is a little different. Pollen levels are at their peak levels around mid-day and early afternoon, but their lowest in the morning and late evening. An early morning run might just be exactly what your nose and lungs need.

Protect your lungs.

Speaking of lungs, this is one that’s especially for asthmatics. It’s important to cover your mouth while you run if you can. If it’s cold or chilly out this is even more crucial to do this to keep allergens out from irritating your throat. Also, it’s recommended to breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth–your nose acts like a filter!

Make your outfit your OOTD.

Spring can be a crazy mess of all different types of weather, so you’ll need to prepare for your outdoor workout or run in advance. Keep a range of clothing options handy (don’t put away those thicker layers in case a cool day pops up). If you’re doing an intense workout, you should dress as if it’s 20 degrees cooler than the temperature outside so you can account for your body temperature rising as you warm up.

Don’t be afraid of a little rain.

One staple of any Spring wardrobe is a thin, waterproof outer layer that you can wear over any type of shirt. Waterproof layers don’t let much air in, which is why it’s best if they’re thin. It’s good to have some so you don’t end up running in drenched clothes, and getting sick.

Another thing to consider is wearing tighter clothing in case you do get wet. With tighter clothing, rainwater won’t weigh down on you as much. Either way, it’s helpful to put on some Vaseline on those chafe-prone areas before you go out. And if you work out with a belt, bag, or pouch, bring an extra pair of socks to change into halfway through your run!

Laundry, shower, stretch.

If you worked out in dry weather, chances are you might have some pollen and other allergens in your hair. As soon as you come home, dump your clothes in the washer and shower right away to avoid continuing to breathe in those irritating allergens. But don’t forget to stretch! You’ll want to keep good care of those muscles, too.

Again, if the pollen or pollution levels are high, don’t risk it. Work out indoors. As long as your heart is pumping and you’re sweating, you’re doing great. But if you do see a good opportunity to go outside, take these precautions and enjoy the beautiful sunshine, green trees, and the loveliness of the Spring!

Note: Above all these tips, follow your doctor’s recommendations for any allergy or allergy-related medications and any other medical interventions. Talk to your doctor first before starting any exercise routine. And immediately stop exercising if you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, or any discomfort, and call your doctor or 911.