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Outdoor workouts? A three-time Paralympic athlete offers her best tips for training - GymFitly - Health and Fitness

Outdoor workouts? A three-time Paralympic athlete offers her best tips for training

Whether your outdoor activity of choice involves walking, running, cycling or playing games with friends and family, getting outside to move the body comes with many benefits. From a boost of Vitamin D from the sun and breathing in the fresh air, to enjoying the sights and sounds that can only be experienced out of the house — there are many reasons to incorporate the outdoors into your daily activity.

Before lacing up and heading out, three-time World Champion and Paralympic bronze medalist Melissa Stockwell draws from her years of experience training for paratriathlons and her former life as a U.S. Army officer to offer tips for protecting yourself from the elements while getting your sweat on outside.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating. Working out means perspiring, which takes moisture from your body, and working out when it’s hot outdoors makes staying hydrated even more important.

“Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. Before heading out drink some water then make sure to keep a bottle (or two!) on you for during and after your workout,” says Stockwell. “Staying hydrated helps your body regulate its temperature, keeps your joints lubricated and energy levels up, as well as helps prevent more serious health issues arising from being in the heat.”

2. Pile on the SPF

Even on days when it is cloudy, the skin needs protection from the sun.

“I usually opt for a sweat- or water-resistant sunscreen and wear a hat or clothing made out of sun-protective fabric to help protect my skin,” advises Stockwell. “Further, instead of exercising mid-day, aim to get your workout in during the morning or evening hours when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong.”

3. Protect your pucker

The delicate skin on the lips is also especially vulnerable to damage from sun exposure, as well as from elements like the wind, heat or cold during any season of the year. Activities in salty water can also draw moisture from the lips. Stockwell recommends keeping her favorite form of lip protection on hand: ChapStick Moisturizer Original Lip Balm.

“I make sure to keep my lips protected and moisturized daily, especially while training outdoors. The ChapStick Moisturizer Original Lip Balm I’ve always trusted combines the classic ChapStick flavor with moisturizing ingredients to soften and protect, like Aloe and Vitamin E, plus broad-spectrum SPF 15 protection providing multi-benefit lip care for up to eight hours. The small size means it also fits in most pockets and into my workout gear, making it easy to tote along for any outdoor activities.”

4. Warm up, cool down

To help safeguard against pain or injury, warm up your muscles and start slowly. Try to mimic the exercises you will be doing at a slow, low-intensity.

“If I am running, my warm-up includes a walk that gradually builds up to a jog. If I am cycling, I’ll slowly cycle around the block a few times to get my muscles and joints ready to go. This helps my body get ready for higher intensity movements.” Stockwell says.

To cool down, incorporate static stretches after a workout to help gradually cool the body and muscles. Stretches like touching your toes or laying on your back and gently bringing your knee to your chest help tired muscles relax, increase flexibility and decrease the risk of injury post-workout.

5. Buddy up

Training outdoors can be hazardous, especially if you’re running, hiking or cycling in an unfamiliar area or on a new path. To stay safer, arrange to exercise with a friend or two so you are accountable for each other.

“Training with someone else means you know you’ll have a backup in case of the unexpected,” Stockwell adds. “Plus, it’s more fun — and motivating — to have company!”

With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to take your workouts into the outdoors. To find more great products to help protect your lips, visit

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