Photo: Mark Bowden via 123RF

Take advantage of the extra daylight and warm summer weather to move your workouts away from home or the gym. Research shows that exercising outside has an even greater impact on your mental wellness than indoor activity alone, and many people find that outdoor exercise is more appealing and thus more sustainable.

If you’d like to give this approach a try, here’s what you need to know before embarking on an outdoor fitness adventure!

Stay Hydrated

It’s essential to hydrate before, during, and after your exercise routine. And when you’re working out in the summer heat, it’s even more crucial! Plan ahead and make sure you take plenty of water with you. To make it easier to carry, consider a water bottle that hooks into a belt or use a backpack-style water pouch that you can carry hands-free. If you’re planning to spend several hours outdoors, find a spot to refill your water partway through. This can be a local park water fountain, a café, or even your car—plan a loop workout so that you get to your car at the halfway point before turning around to head back the other way for the second half.

Move Your Workouts Early/Late

One of the best ways to take advantage of beautiful summer weather is to exercise in the early morning or late evening. You’ll get the benefit of being outdoors without the extreme heat, and it’ll be plenty light! Heading outside during these hours also means you’re less likely to encounter much traffic or other noise so you can enjoy the peaceful solitude of nature more easily. If you’re worried about being alone during these isolated hours, find a workout buddy or head to a local park where others might have the same exercise idea.

Photo: Mark Bowden via 123RF

Gear Up Properly

Exercising outside requires its own set of fitness gear, so make sure you plan ahead for an outdoor session. Wear sweat-resistant sunscreen and a hat, even if it’s cloudy—the sun can still be powerful! Choose bright colors for your clothing so that you’re visible to cars, especially if it’s slightly dark outside. Also, make sure to have the proper footwear for your plans. Running indoors on a treadmill is a lot easier on your joints and feet than running outside on pavement, so supportive shoes are essential to your long-term wellness. If you’re biking or hiking, choose appropriate gear for those activities, too.

Stay Safe

Exercising outdoors is an excellent way to keep your fitness routines fresh, but it does come with a few additional risks. Make sure to always take a fully-charged phone in case you run into a problem and need help. If you’re headed into the mountains or natural space away from town, plan your route ahead of time and carry a physical copy of a map in case you get lost. And although most of us like to work out with a good playlist, try turning off the music when you’re outside. Listening to the peaceful sounds of nature can help add to the regenerative effects of outdoor exercise, and without headphones, you’ll be able to stay vigilant more easily. If you really need your tunes, just put in one earbud instead of two.

Get Creative with Your Routines

Switching to an outdoor workout can be as simple as doing your usual activities outside! This is a simple way to ease into an outdoor fitness routine if you’d like a change of scenery. Take your laptop and a yoga mat and set up for a streaming session on the back lawn or local park, or walk around the neighborhood instead of on the treadmill. If you’re looking for something more creative, try taking advantage of nature’s unique terrain for a new workout every time. Hiking is a fantastic full-body workout, since you’re constantly using core muscles to balance and scramble up uneven paths. If you want to stay in town, head to the local park and complete a few laps before setting up for bodyweight exercises on the grass (here’s a great park-bench routine for some ideas!). Consider replacing some of your summertime commutes with bike rides for an efficient transportation/exercise combination!

No matter what the routine is, exercising outdoors is an excellent way to stay fit and enjoy nature.