Taking Fitness Outdoors: Be Prepared!

Photo by Chris Elias
Photo by Chris Elias

This last Tuesday, I wrote a little about places to explore when you get an urge to get outdoors during one of our sunny days. It’s all well and good to talk about exploring in good weather, but the elements have to cooperate if we want to go outside.

If I’ve learned anything about the weather in the Pacific Northwest, its that the only thing certain is rain. Case in point, the beginning of this last Tuesday was beautiful! But by the end of the day, it was gray, wet, and not quite hiking or cycling weather.

But that’s one of the great things about life isn’t it? We can learn from our challenges. Even though we might plan for blue skies and warm weather, there could be anything in the forecast for tomorrow. You never know what life is going to throw your way.

So to make sure we’re ready for whatever weather might be headed our way, we have to prepare for the challenges at hand.

This is especially important when we head outdoors for our fitness. If something happens at the gym, you’re surrounded by fitness professionals who can help you out, and know when you’re pushing yourself too far. But if you run into an issue on a hike to see Multnomah falls? There may be others on the trail. but you’ve got to take care of yourself and know when you’re pushing yourself too far.

Here are a few tips you can remember before headed to the trailhead:

Plan ahead – I like to say “Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.” It might sound pessimistic, but think about it this way: When you’re a mile away from your car dressed for a warm day in the sun and it starts to drizzle, it’s going to get cold and wet awfully fast.

So make sure you are prepared for the trail before you set out. I highly recommend you take proper clothing for the occasion when you head out. If you’re going hiking, wear hiking boots, light, breathable clothing, and take some light rain gear in a backpack. Don’t forget to prepare for sun, either, so wear sunscreen and a hat.

Calories and Water – Always, always, always take water with you if you’re going to be spending some time outdoors! As you go hiking or biking, your body is going to be using a lot more fluids, which means you’re going to need more water than you might for a day in the office. The last thing you want to experience when you’re on a trail is dehydration.

Another thing many people tend to overlook while headed outdoors is trail mix. Like water, your body is going to be burning quite a few more calories than normal. Trail mix will provide your body with the energy it needs to keep going, so you don’t burn out halfway through the hike.

Know where you’re going – Even if you’re headed to a well defined path, it’s very important that you know exactly where you’re starting, where you’re headed, and how long the trail is. On a map, trails may look very easy to navigate, but sometimes maps don’t always include forks in the road, or unmarked trails. Know where you’re going, so you at least have a fair idea of what to expect on the trail.

Stretch – I cannot stress this enough for anyone who is planning on travelling outdoors. Unlike spending some time on a treadmill or an elliptical, outdoor trails are going to vary in exertion with every step. Some portions will be level, others will be fairly steep, and some might shift both uphill and downhill.

Make sure you’re doing your stretches for your legs, so your body is prepared for a little extra exertion than normal. The last place you want a cramp is on the trail.

Don’t overexert yourself – If this is one of the first times you’ve gone on a trek, remember to take it easy, and don’t feel compelled to go too far. Just because there’s something to see at the end of the path doesn’t mean you have to get there in record time. Pushing yourself at the gym is one thing, but remember that you still have to make it back to the trailhead once you get to your destination.

Grab a camera – Maybe not an essential, but you’re going outdoors to enjoy the view in addition to your fitness. So grab a camera and take some shots so you can share! I love to hear about where everyone is going on the weekends, and would love to see pictures of your latest experience!

When you do get a great shot, be sure to share it with Boomer Fitness on Facebook, and tell us about what you’re doing outdoors!

The Relationship Between the Gym and Your Health

Progress in Action - Road Barricade Improvement and Change for FLast week I wrote about the dangers of not working out. It might have sounded a little harsh, but I meant every word. Too few people know the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, especially when paired with the unhealthy foods so many of us find on grocery shelves.

With an unhealthy lifestyle comes heart disease, plaque in the arteries, a proneness to diabetes… the list can go on and on. It’s scary to think about what can happen if we choose to do nothing. But like I wrote last Tuesday, I would much rather you hear the truth than hiding behind a set of lies.

Sometimes, we all need a kick in the pants to get started on our long journey. But on the other hand, we always hear about the doom and gloom surrounding an unhealthy lifestyle. What about the positive effects of a mobile lifestyle? And not just the long term effects, either.

Believe it or not, your body starts changing the exact moment you start working out at the gym. Big results take a long time, but that doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing nothing when you start doing lunges for the first time. Take a look at what’s happening to your body when you first start working out:

Metabolism Boost – Minutes after you start working your body, your metabolism is going to get a huge boost in energy. As your body starts to recognize that it’s using more energy than normal, it’s going to start producing neurochemicals responsible for metabolism to compensate for this new motion. This boost can last anywhere between a few hours and a few days. To get the best results, you will have to continue exercise so your body continues to boost.

Improvement in Mood -After a workout, you might notice that you’re having a better day now compared to when you walked in. It’s not just in your head; those same neurochemicals I talked about boosting your metabolism are also responsible for boosting your mood. Working out at the gym will produce these neurochemicals, and you will feel more relaxed, more confident, and have more energy to hit the day.

Regulate Blood Sugar – Blood sugar, or glucose, is used as an energy source throughout our body, but we can’t have too much of it floating around in us. Your body produces insulin to control the amount of glucose found in our blood stream, but having too much glucose can lead to Type II diabetes. So how do we balance it? Exercising goes a long way to combating excessive blood sugar, burning it as you move more. As your body burns more energy, it will compensate less.

Lowering Blood Pressure – You might be thinking “how does making my heart work more cause blood pressure to drop?” As we get older, our blood vessels start to get stiff, causing more pressure throughout our system. While it’s true that your heart might be beating more frequently during your time in the gym, you’re also flexing and moving your blood vessels, which loosens them up and allows blood to move freely. You might not notice a difference in how you feel, but your blood pressure monitor sure will.

These improvements don’t take months to acquire. Your body is designed to move, and doing so means it will react positively! The first day at the gym is always tough, but just showing up and doing something is better than sitting in front of the TV. I like to think that no matter how slow you’re moving, you’re still lapping the version of yourself on the couch!

But don’t think you can get away with minimal time at the gym. While small improvements are a good stepping stone, ramping up your effort at the gym is an important aspect of winning back your health. As we like to say at Boomer Fitness, you only have your health once!

Email me when you’re ready to start getting your body in motion! We will start getting you on track to a healthier tomorrow.