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How to transition from indoor to outdoor exercise

woman running outdoors

As the weather warms up and spring arrives, many people who have been exercising and training indoors will inevitably begin to spend more time outside.

Making this transition might seem easy, but there are some things to keep in mind to be sure you are safe and prepared for moving your workout outside:

  • It’s best to dress in layers. You’ll want to have an underlayer that wicks the sweat away from your skin. You’ll also want to have an outer layer that protects you from the elements.
  • Wear sunscreen, even if you’re not sure you will have sun exposure.
  • Do you need a visor or sunglasses?
  • Be aware of the change in times of sunrise and sunset. It may make it harder for drivers to see you if you’re out on the road. You might want to wear reflective clothing.
  • When exercising outside, you will need to plan ahead if you are used to having a drink or nourishment handy.
  • You will expend different energy exercising outside versus inside. Most of the time it’s harder to exercise outside because you’re battling the elements. The change in temperature may also be something to consider after you’ve been exercising in a controlled environment.
  • Be prepared for the unknown terrain. Preplan your route, finding one that doesn’t require you to stop frequently to cross streets. Try to use running or bike trails instead of running on the street.
  • Change your footwear. Miles indoors are the same as miles outdoors. I recommend people change their shoes every 300-500 miles. If you’ve run that many miles on a treadmill in the winter, it’s probably a good idea to get a new pair of shoes before you begin running outside.
  • Consider carrying personal identification when training outside. 
About Andrew Porter DO

I am associate director of the Via Christi Family Medicine Program and assistant director of the Via Christi Sports Medicine Fellowship. I am a team doctor for Wichita State University and Newman University in Wichita, Kan.