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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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Published on March 8, 2019

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

Think about your current workouts:

If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

    A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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    Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

    Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

    Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

    Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

    This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

    Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

    Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

    The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

    Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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    Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

    Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

    The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

    The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

    Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

    Meet Strong Stan

    Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

    While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

    While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

    Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

    Meet Flexible Fiona

    Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

    Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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    To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

    Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

    It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

    Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

    Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

    What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

    In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

    In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

    So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

    You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

    If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

    If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

    Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

      Final Thoughts

      If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

      Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

      Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

      With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

      More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

      Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

      Reference

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