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Working, out

Trainers offer tips for taking fitness to the great outdoors

Published: Monday, July 1, 2013 12:21 p.m. CDT

Summer’s here and the time is right . . . for taking your exercise to the street. Whether running a first 5K, or looking to change up regular workouts, area trainers agree that hitting the road, the yard, or the park can be a great way to get a dose of fresh air and physical activity.

"Being outside is a change pace, that affects the psychology of exercise," said Pam Strand of Strand Fitness, an appointment only fitness service that offers personalized programs in Wheaton. "It changes people's moods, makes them willing to work out harder."

Jessica Nierkarz, a running coach at Runner's Soul in Elmhurst, added that the simply change in environment can effect your body.

"Immediately, it is more challenging to be outside, whether it's from terrain or the fact that there is no [treadmill] belt underneath you, propelling you."

For those who never have exercised outdoors, there are some motivators to consider.

"There is a different mentality to running outdoors: the scenery is better and there is social aspect to it as well," said Charles Wiegand, form and running coach at the Runner's Soul location in La Grange. "You can run with a training partner or with a club. You have a better chance of actually doing it if you know people are waiting for you," Wiegand said.

Using common sense and good preparation are two easy means to successfully navigating regular outdoor workouts.

"You should have a training plan, be equipped with proper hydration, and the proper clothing," Wiegand said.

Rain will make certain surfaces like grass and asphalt slippery.  And everyone should be aware how their bodies might adapt to the temperature and the humidity.

"It takes time to acclimate to humidity," said Nierkarz. "Listen to your body, if you are out of breath or overheated, it's time to step back."

Nierkarz noted that if you regularly exercise indoors, be prepared to scale your regular workout back until you acclimate to the new environment.

"There is no shame in run-walking. There are a ton of run-walk programs out there that will help you acclimate to a new terrain, to the weather, and to the act of physically propelling yourself on your own," said Nierkarz.

Also essential is proper equipment for outdoor activity. The trainers must have list includes: proper shoes, a water bottle, layered comfortable clothing and sunscreen.

Nierkarz also recommends a cool down activity, such as a walk, after your outdoor workout.

"Let your heart rate come down slowly, not an abrupt stop which can cause dizziness."

Nierkarz also reminds everyone to stretch to prevent muscle tightness.

"Hit all major muscle groups when you stretch: glutes, outer hip, calves, twists for low back," she said.

She also suggested consuming  a combination of carbs and protein.

"Chocolate milk is a good example," Nierkarz said.

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