Getting cardiovascular exercise, training with weights or other gym based sports are a great way to manage your fitness. However, taking your workout outside is another terrific way to cross train. Simply trekking on trails instead of an indoor machine develops balance, uses more muscle groups and can take you on a journey in an uncontrolled environment that stimulates your brain with countless variables. Throw in some unpredictable weather, sun, wind etc and you’ll recognize the thrill of beating the elements.
Adventure activities refer to sports like mountain biking, trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, or kayaking, scuba diving, base jumping, the list goes on and on. What these endeavours have in common is a degree of risk (from low to high), and self-discovery. Adventure sports are known to teach people self-reliance and teamwork as well as encouraging them to leave their comfort zone. These result in better health, improved self esteem and increased confidence that translates into all aspects of one’s life.
There is no debating the health benefits of daily exercise. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the local health authorities all agree that we need at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every day. The good news is that as I mentioned above you don’t have to be confined to the gym to get in shape. Outdoor activities are just as effective, are more fun, and have some appealing advantages.
Here are some reasons to take your exercise outside:
- No Long Term Membership Fees – The outdoors belongs to all of us. Depending on the activity, you may not even need access to special equipment. There are so many options for outdoor activities that you’re sure to find something you’ll love that will suit your budget.
- The Air is Cleaner – Estimates show that indoor air is more than twice as polluted as outdoor air.
- A Free Daily Dose of D – Scientists recommend outdoor exercise as a way to get your vitamin D through sunlight. This is especially important if you are overweight —people who are overweight are almost twice as likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
- Exercise for Your Mind – When you exercise outdoors, your mind becomes aware of the changing terrain. Whether you use the mountains, the sand on a beach, or a winding wadi path, your mind has to focus differently than it would on a flat and level gym floor,
If that all sounds good, here are some guidelines to get you going:
- Exercise Early – In the morning your energy is higher, the air is generally cleaner, the temperature is lower, and you will feel better all day long.
- Avoid Temperature Extremes – Although your body can adapt to warmer weather, you should avoid exercising outside in extreme heat, the majority of adventure activities in this region take place in the winter months.
- Don’t Get Burned – Although some sun is good for you, too much sun is not. Always use a good sunscreen, and wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim.
- Drink Enough Water – If you drink about 8 to 10 ounces of water 30 minutes before doing outdoor exercises, it should hydrate you sufficiently for about 30-minutes. You don’t need water with electrolytes in most cases. Remember that you can lose water through sweating even in cooler weather, and you may start to get dehydrated before you feel thirsty.
- Get Some Gear – Just as you wear specific clothing for the gym, you’ll need clothing and shoes for adventure activities also. Take advantage of the new technology that has gone into shoe treads and waterproof, breathable clothing material.
- Make Outdoor Activities Part of your General Lifestyle –Think about walking instead of driving. Plan outdoor activities with your family. Go for a hike instead of heading to the mall.
If you have any health issues, always talk to your doctor before starting an outdoor fitness program. Have a goal in mind, start slowly, and work up to a bigger achievement. Outdoor activities can be adapted to anyone’s level of fitness.
Words By: Paul Oliver
Photos By: Absolute Adventure