4 Outdoor Fitness Tips

With so many health clubs and other indoor facilities dedicated to fitness, it's no surprise a majority of people associate working out with indoor lighting, dumbbells and treadmills. Fortunately, that's far from the case.

While, weight training and floor mats certainly have their place in your fitness development, consider the vast number of yoga classes and strength training programs that utilize the outdoors as an enhancement.

Dozens of yoga retreats use the beach and other natural settings to augment their effect. Cross training programs and "boot camps" thrive in the outdoors, where activities such as the 50- and 100-yard dash, big tire flipping and weighted sleds are common training equipment.

So, as you learn to view the great outdoors as Mother Nature's all inclusive gym, free of charge, here are a few things to keep in mind as you head out for your first workout.

Stretch Before You Go

Just as you would for any type of exercise, remember to properly warm up, including a proper stretch. One way to do this is via a progressive warm-up, in other words, don't jump right into the main sets of your workout. Gradually build your intensity and include some basic stretching.

Take your time to warm up will not only spare you an unfortunate injury. It can prevent you from getting stuck further from home than you'd like. If trail running, use the first few minutes of your warm-up to also familiarize yourself with the terrain. Watch for protruding rocks or tree roots.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Make sure your clothing is up to the task. If it's summer, wear breathable and light materials, preferably of the sweat-wicking variety. Sun protection such as sweat-proof sunscreen, hat and sunglasses are also key.

During colder weather, breathable and sweat-wicking materials are also a good idea and should be used in layers. Depending on the conditions, i.e. wind, rain, you may need a wind or rain proof shell. Finally, as you would in the gym, be sure your clothes are nonconstricting and offer enough room for you to maneuver.

Use the Right Gear

As with your selection in clothing, your gear selection should follow along similar lines: light, versatile and easy on your body.  For example, if trekking, pick the pack that's right for you. There are now packs made specifically for women.

Other gear options that have made longer, more strenuous trekking accessible to a larger group of people include hydration bladders, aluminum trekking poles and rugged, lightweight shoes.

Know Your Limits

Finally, remember to stay within your limits, regardless of your outdoor activity. Though this may seem obvious with activities like rock climbing or white water rafting, the same applies to all the rest.

If hiking or trail running, give yourself enough time to hike out and back before dark. Also, stick to trails within your level by being aware of any steep uphill or downhill routes you may encounter along the way.

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