Confronting an uncontrolled environment — heat, hills, head winds and uneven pavement, for example — provides a tougher workout than a comparable routine indoors and stimulates the senses. Outdoor workouts have been associated with stronger feelings of revitalization, more energy and less tension
than indoor exercise.
“You find joy outside,” Minardi says.
You’ll also find Vitamin D from sunlight, which helps you absorb calcium and promotes bone growth.
When warm weather does arrive, however, remember that acclimating to heat can take 10 to 14 days of exposure and exercise, according to the American Council on Exercise. Once that happens, you’ll produce more cooling sweat and lose fewer electrolytes, according to the group.
And, of course, don’t forget to hydrate adequately. Trust your thirst. It won’t steer you wrong.
You might soon find yourself out there running, cycling or playing kickball, soccer or softball. But here are a few nontraditional ways to salute the sun, and one way to avoid it, while getting your summer workout.
Hit (the roof of) the gym
At a recent cycling class at Vida Fitness on U Street, Alexx Zamudio, 33, group fitness program director, had an important question for his students: “Did you put your suntan lotion on?” Muscles weren’t the only body parts that had the potential to burn during this 90-minute session on the gym’s roof deck, which is where he’s planning to spend a good chunk of his summer.
Outdoor classes keep members interested in the gym during a traditionally slow period, and also are a perk for Zamudio, who prefers exercising in nature. In addition to using the deck for cycling, he’s also taking advantage of it to host Zumba under the stars. And he always takes his early morning boot camps over to Meridian Hill Park.
“My boss has told me, ‘I hardly ever see you here,’ ” Zamudio says, joking about his out-and-about exercise schedule. That’s because Zamudio is convinced the change of scenery can do a body good. “You’re not looking at mirrors. The next thing you realize is that class is over and you’ve burned 1,000 calories.”
John Murray, 45, of the District, is already a fan. “Being outdoors makes the class go by so quickly. The idea of being inside is so claustrophobic. And you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or wearing a helmet.” Another plus for D.C. cyclists: no potholes.
You don’t have to be a Vida member to sign up for the gym’s outdoor cycling classes or other roof offerings. The classes are $25 ($20 for members), and the next session is Sunday at 12:30. See www.vidafitness.com for the summer schedule. For something different, you can train free until May 31 at the new Roam Fitness (www.roamfitnessdc.com) in Glover Park, a gym focused on getting clients out into the city as much as possible. Give it a try by tagging along for an OutRun — a group training run with breaks that focus on strength building exercises.