6 Big Outdoor Fitness Mistakes to Avoid This Summer

Summer has a way of inspiring us to get a little more active than usual — often because we can take more of our activities outside. If you’re the type of person who enjoys combining sun, fresh air and fitness together during this time of year when the weather is perfectly warm (even hot, perhaps) then you’ll want to make sure you’ve made the necessary tweaks to your activity routine so it can be safely done in outdoor territory.

Just because something worked when you broke a sweat at home or in the gym doesn’t mean it’ll have the same effect when you take yourself out on the trail, sidewalk, road or other outdoor area. Here are 10 slip-ups to fix before heading outside.

1. Forgetting to hydrate before you head out.

Okay, so hydrating before any workout — indoor or outdoor — is always recommended, but you may have to up your hydration if you’re planning on getting physically active under hotter than average temperatures. Dehydration has been shown to have a negative impact on physical performance of 30 minutes or more, and “pre-cooling” (lowering your body temperature beforehand) is effective at increasing time to exhaustion. The easiest way to do this is by drinking enough ice cold water well before your workout rather than waiting to hydrate during or after your workout.

2. Wearing dark clothing.

You wouldn’t notice it while working out indoors, but outside, that black tank top or those navy blue leggings will make you really feel the heat of the sun. This can easily be avoided by choosing the right clothing. Dark clothing traps heat against the skin and can hasten fatigue, so instead, go for light-colored, loose-fitting clothing made with breathable fabrics.

3. Exposing parts of your body that need protection.

When you take your workout outside, especially in the summer, the sun is often the biggest factor you need to worry about. Even if you’re swimming in a cold lake, hiking under the shade of the trees, or running when it’s overcast — you still need to wear sunscreen. The American Optometric Association also recommends wearing sun glasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation to protect your eyes. And while it may seem like a good idea in theory to wear shorts outside on the trail, you’d be better off wearing pants in heavily forested or ungroomed areas to protect yourself from ticks.

4. Wearing the wrong shoes.

Walking on a treadmill at the gym is a lot different than walking on a trail or even a sidewalk, and your feet will let you know this if you use your indoor shoes for your outdoor activity as well. Unlike the flat floors of our homes and gyms, taking our workouts outside often means dealing with uneven terrain. Depending on the type of activity you’re doing, you may need to invest in a new pair of shoes — possibly a pair designed for outdoor terrain — to help you sustain performance and prevent injury.

5. Getting active during the heat of the day.

Here’s a good motivator to get up earlier to work out or get it done after you get home from work: the curse of the midday sun. From April through October, the sun is strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so avoiding long and/or intense activity during these hours to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke is always a good idea. It’s much cooler in the early morning or evening hours, but make sure to check the temperature and humidity before you head out. Humidity prevents sweat from evaporating from your skin, making it harder on your body to keep you cool.

6. Expecting the same performance results as your indoor workout.

Let’s face it — putting ourselves in an outdoor environment where we’re exposed to the elements makes it a lot more difficult to perform the same way we might perform if we were doing it in an indoor environment. The sun, wind, temperature, humidity and terrain will make you quickly realize this. And this is important to accept so you know not to push yourself past exhaustion. Being aware of the fact that outdoor activity can often be made more difficult than indoor activity will help you realize that you should pace yourself, take frequent rests, seek shade when you’re feeling the heat and maybe even cut your workout down to be shorter than usual.

Don’t let the outdoors scare you off — there’s still a lot of fun to be had and a lot of calories to be burned out there, safely and effectively. Be mindful to avoid the mistakes mentioned above, and you shouldn’t have any real problems.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay


Paulo R
Paulo R4 days ago


Paulo R
Paulo R4 days ago


Sonia M
Sonia M1 years ago

Good reminders thanks for sharing

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Karen F.
Karen P2 years ago

Don't forget that sunscreen! Hate the stuff, but can't avoid using it here in sunny Queensland,.

william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

LF F2 years ago

In any workout, start out slow and work your way up. And we must consider the heat index factor in my area. It may be too hot to be outside doing streneous activities.

Janet B.
Janet B2 years ago