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Lifestyles over 50

10 Tips for a Safe and Pleasurable Outdoor Workout

Apr 17, 2023 04:14PM ● By Mary DeHaven, St. Luke's University Health Network
Spring is in the air and calling you to reap the benefits that only exercising outdoors can offer, says John Graham, Senior Network Administrator of St. Luke’s Fitness and Sports Performance.

St. Luke’s University Health Network encourages activity of all kinds and offers supervised training through St. Luke’s full-service Fitness & Sports Performance Centers in five locations throughout the area.

Whether you belong to a gym or not, moving outside is excellent exercise as we grow older. It requires your eyes, mind, and body to work together, sharpening your mind, improving your balance, and reducing your risk of falling.

“The great outdoors offers health benefits that can’t be duplicated, beginning with every breath you take,” he says. “There’s no cleaner air than what’s outside. But that’s not all. When you’re exercising outdoors, you must use the bones and muscles of your own body to support you and to ambulate.”

While exercising outdoors is beneficial, Graham offers tips to ensure a safe and pleasurable workout.
1. Before starting an outdoor workout routine, consult with your primary care physician, or if you’re working with one, a physical therapist, to determine your capabilities.
2. Go with a friend or family member and take your cell phone in case you need help. If you must exercise alone, tell someone where you’ll be and when you expect to be back. Then, check in.
3. Wear appropriate footwear, such as hiking boots or shoes, when walking on rugged terrain. Sneakers may be sufficient for many trails and preferable if you’re running, but make sure they have adequate treads and support. Be particularly careful in rocky areas, especially if they’re wet from rain, dew, or water spray, such as from a waterfall. 
4. When it’s hot, wear moisture-wicking clothing to stay cool and dry and prevent overheating and heat stroke. Clothing that wicks tends to be made of synthetic fabric, and the manufacturer usually identifies its wicking properties. Although cotton can be lightweight, it holds moisture, and you should avoid it if you expect to work up a sweat. 
5. Drink plenty of fluids when exercising, especially on hot days. You should drink eight ounces of water or a sports drink for every 15 minutes of exercise. If you drink a sports drink, dilute it with water either in a one-to-one ratio or one part sports drink to two or three parts of water. Some people like to drink as they exercise, but I prefer to do so afterward.
6. Before setting out, do warm-up activities like bringing your knee to your chest, extending your leg straight in front of you, or kicking it to the side.
7. Incorporate interval training to maximize the effect of your walk or run. When going for a walk, for example, increase the intensity by jogging or walking at a fast pace for 15 seconds. Then, walk at a normal pace for a minute and a half. Over time, increase the pace and duration of the higher-intensity exercise period.
8. When participating in potentially more dangerous sports such as biking, kayaking, or canoeing, follow the law and safety rules. Wear proper safety gear and use common sense. If you’re moving faster than your body can move on its own, wear a helmet.
9. After exercise, it’s critical to stretch the muscles to reduce the effect of muscle soreness. If you develop pain after exercise, place ice on the area to reduce swelling, or it could become inflamed.

In addition to outdoor activity, people wishing to improve their fitness may benefit from membership at St. Luke’s Fitness & Sports Performance Centers in Bethlehem, Easton, Jim Thorpe, and Phillipsburg, NJ. Members are eligible for a complimentary computerized fitness assessment and workout program specifically tailored to each member’s needs and fitness goals.

Professional, college-degreed and nationally certified exercise specialists provide ongoing support. St. Luke’s Fitness & Sports Performance memberships are available to everyone. Memberships are billed monthly and do not require any initiation fees or long-term commitments.

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