Each time spring and summer rolls around in Portland, we expect many of our neighbors to venture outside to enjoy the long-awaited sun and warm temperatures. Whether you’re itching to get off the treadmill for some mileage along the waterfront or ready to take on the beautiful trails of the Columbia River Gorge, we encourage you to consult your physician before participating in any new exercise or ramping up your training.
If you’re running, biking, walking, hiking or hitting the gym, it’s important to stay focused on your overall health, not simply concentrating on which muscle group you’re working on that day. Below, we’ve listed a few important factors to consider while you take advantage of the drier months in our city:
Warm up and stretch
Injury prevention is key to your new or ramped-up workout. It is essential to make sure the muscles you’re about to train have a strong blood flow and ligaments and tendons are warmed up for a full range of safe movement. While some warm-up routines may seem boring or too basic, they are instrumental in keeping you safe and free from a strain, pull or tear, which would be devastating to your progress. There are plenty of light warm-ups you can do to prepare yourself, and ample instructional videos.
Even if the temperatures are on the chilly side and you’re not sweating as much, you still need to make sure you’re properly hydrated. The outdated “drink a gallon of water a day” method is no longer an acceptable measurement. Dehydration can be a serious condition that may lead to problems ranging from a headache to heat stroke. The amount of water you need to consume will depend on the intensity of your exercise, the outside temperature and your weight. The American Heart Association recommends monitoring the color of your urine: While working out, you should have a pale-to-clear stream. If you are experiencing a dark yellow, you need more water.
Nutrition is key
When venturing outside for a workout, it is important to be prepared. Nutrition is one aspect that cannot be ignored. Whether you’re hiking, biking or walking, take time to plan for and pack nutritious food. Depending on the distance, length or intensity of your activity, and the number of participants, you may consider packing additional energy bars, gels or supplements to keep you fueled. Stay away from sugary snacks and drinks, and concentrate on protein and carbohydrates.
Don’t forget the sunscreen
Most people spread sunscreen too thin and don’t apply it often enough. Slather it on every two hours, especially if you get wet or sweaty. Use one with an SPF of 30 or more, and look for the words “broad spectrum” or “UVA and UVB protection” on the label. The SPF rating applies only to UVB protection, but UVA is damaging too. Remember, even with cloud cover, the sun’s rays can still do damage.
Dress for success
We know our neighbors in Portland like to keep their image looking sharp, but when it comes to physical activity, it’s ok to stick with basics. Stay away from cotton, especially base layers. Cotton is notorious for maintaining moisture, which can lead to uncomfortable chafing and heavy, sweat-soaked clothing. Stick with smart wool, polyester blends and other performance materials for sweat-wicking comfort. There are plenty of athletic apparel shops in Portland that can dress you for workout success!
Providers here at The Portland Clinic encourage everyone in our city who is considering a new outdoor workout routine to schedule an appointment or consultation with our staff of physical therapists and/or their general practitioner. Keep in mind, most physical therapists and orthopedists require a referral from a primary care provider. If you have questions about the potential risks of new workouts, or would like a physical exam, please make an appointment with your doctor.