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How To Stay Safe While Exercising Outside

How To Stay Safe While Exercising Outside

Working out is important for your health, but it is also critical to put the proper safety techniques in place. Unfortunately, even common sense methods that you often use as a general rule to stay safe are sometimes disregarded in the quest for daily exercise.

Here are a few tips that can get you back on the right side of safety.

1. Buddy Up

Exercising with a friend can help you avoid accidents in a variety of ways. For example, it is easier for motorists to notice two joggers or cyclists than just one. Additionally, if you have difficulty while performing tasks such as hiking, your workout buddy can help you safely pass each obstacle. Utilizing the buddy system is also a way to ensure that you do not push yourself too hard, as the two of you can agree in advance to stick to your limits. As an added bonus, your friend can also serve as a spotter to ensure that you don’t hurt yourself.

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2. Use Reflective Materials

If you will be running, biking, or doing anything else outside, it is wise to put reflective materials on your gear and clothing. This is something that is done by athletes during marathons. It can also allow motorists to see you in poorly lit conditions. Keep in mind that dusk and dawn are not the only times of day when reflective stripes could save your life. After all, if it starts raining or there are a lot of traffic distractions, a driver may fail to notice you. Having something on your body that reflects light is the perfect way to minimize this risk.

3. Map Out Your Route in Advance

Are you preparing to go jogging or cycling in a new area? Or perhaps you like to visit the same spot every single day? Either way, it is smart to map your route out in advance. This will make it possible for you to see issues that could make your workout less safe, including construction, road closures, and special events. Taking just a few minutes to look into everything can save you from many hassles.

4. Take Water and a Snack

Most people hydrate before they begin their exercise routine; however, did you know that it is just as essential to stay hydrated throughout your workout? Signs that you aren’t getting enough water to propel you through each exercise include muscle cramps, fatigue, and dizziness. To avoid these problems, always have water with you so that you hydrate before, during, and after your workout. It is also smart to have a healthy, protein rich snack with you so that you make a good food choice if you feel hungry after exercising.

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5. Tell Someone Else Your Route

If you are unable to work out with a friend, you should at least let someone know where you plan to go cycling, jogging, or hiking. This will provide you with a backup emergency system in case something goes wrong and you are unable to call for help. Let your friend know exactly where you plan to go and how long you anticipate your workout will last. Doing this means that someone will always be waiting for you to check-in with them after you finish. If you fail to do so, they can notify the authorities that you need help.

6. Utilize Places Cars Cannot Go

Approximately 150,000 pedestrians require emergency assistance every year, and another 4,700 die after being struck by a motor vehicle. Runners and joggers are part of this equation, and thousands of cyclists are also at risk of suffering from a serious or even fatal injury. With this in mind, it is best to look for places that are not accessible by motor vehicles. However, make sure that the location you choose is safe enough for your chosen activity. This includes being well kept and located in a low crime area.

7. Be Aware of the Weather

Do you head out your front door without checking the temperature and whether or not a storm is in the forecast? If so, you are taking unnecessary risks with your health. Staying updated about the weather makes it possible to choose the most appropriate type of exercise to ensure your safety. For example, if the heat index is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, doctors suggest working out in the cool safety of an air conditioned gym instead. The Weather Channel recently added a section to their website (and app) to help runners track the necessary components so that you can make an informed decision.

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8. Wear Shoes and Clothes That Fit Properly

There are many risks associated with choosing the wrong workout gear. If your shoes are not the proper fit, you run the risk of hurting your feet, knees, and lower back. Improperly sized clothing can get caught in your bicycle or cause chaffing. Your clothing can also cause you to become overheated or dehydrate more quickly if it is not made from wicking materials. Due to these potential issues, you should always pay close attention to your footwear and workout clothing choices.

9. Warm Up Before Each Workout

You have a better chance of preventing injuries if you warm up for 20 to 30 minutes at the beginning of each workout. If you are a runner, this might mean walking and slowly increasing your speed until you are ready to begin running. Doing a lighter form of cardiovascular exercise before you begin the harder work is good for your heart and will make you less likely to suffer from an injury as a result of your exercise routine.

10. Stretch After, Not Before

For a long time, people believed that it was most beneficial to stretch before they worked out. Now, science tells us that stretching after the workout is much more important and can have a huge impact on whether or not you end up feeling sore the next day. In a nutshell, your muscles have contracted during the workout, and you need to reset your body by doing some stretches. Incorporating this tip should reduce stiffness and soreness.

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Conclusion

Half of the battle with exercising is getting and staying motivated, so make sure you do something that makes you feel pumped up, such as listening to music. For safety’s sake, though, never turn the volume up so high that you cannot hear road noise.

Featured photo credit: Amanda Mills, USCDCP via public-domain-image.com

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Holly Chavez

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Published on July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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