How to overcome four common roadblocks that can ruin your al fresco routine.

By Elizabeth Goodman Artis
March 30, 2012

One of the best parts of warmer weather is taking your exercise routine outside-fresh air, visual stimulation, a reprieve from the same-old, same-old of your local gym. But the great outdoors doesn't always cooperate with your plans: Allergies or rainy weather can put a damper on your routine, plus the outdoor space available to you may not seem conducive to the workout you have in mind. We talked to Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, and ACE certified group fitness instructor for her tips on overcoming four common obstacles to outdoor exercise.

Problem: You Have Allergies


Solution: Steer Clear of Lawnmowers

The type of allergies you have plus the time of the year are a factor, but according to Matthews, avoiding areas with freshly-cut grass can cut down on symptoms for many.

"Some of my clients have bad reactions to freshly cut grass, so I'll set up a strength circuit at a playground with wood chips or at a track away from grassy areas, and it can make a big difference," she says.

Problem: You Want to Sculpt


Solution: Act like a Kid

Most people associate outdoor workouts with long runs and hilly bike rides. But there are tons of ways to define your body without classic gym equipment. Again, a local playground can offer loads of toning opportunities, from monkey bars for pull-ups to benches that are slightly lower than average to accommodate kids-about eight to 12 inches off the ground, which is the right height for step-ups and triceps dips.

Matthews also recommends investing in a few portable pieces of equipment such as resistance bands, tubing, and a medicine ball and setting up your own mini circuit in a park. Add in jumping jacks or skip rope between sets for a cardio blast.

Problem: You Can't Live Without Yoga


Solution: Become Your Own Yogi

Even though it's usually performed in a studio setting, yoga is one of the most portable, do-anywhere practices around. Matthews recommends building your own yoga sequence and memorizing it so you can literally just drop a mat anywhere and downward-dog away.

If you need help devising your own routine, seek out one of the many apps or tools available. If you want to leave your smart phone out of your yoga practice, Matthews suggests writing down your posture sequence on index cards. Many cities also offer outdoor yoga classes in the spring and summe-inquire at your local studio.

Problem: You Live in Seattle (or Another Rainy Climate)


Solution: Think like a Weatherperson

Many rainy or temperamental climates have a window during the day where the bad weather clears up-in California locals refer to "June gloom"-overcast and rainy in the morning but sunny by early afternoon. If this is true where you live, try to fit this window of workout opportunity into your schedule. Beyond that, good gear is key. If you bike or run, make sure your outer layer of workout wear is water resistant so any moisture rolls off the material. When you plan your route, anticipate slippery spots or dangerous road conditions.

Matthews also recommends running on a track rather than the road or a trail since it's more protected, and the rubber surface may be less slippery (and definitely less muddy).

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