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This Week’s What Do I Need To Know About……Exercising In The Great Outdoors

Grab your sunscreen and baseball caps because summer is right around the corner and we can’t wait to get fit in the great outdoors. In this week’s post, we explore choosing a sunblock that is good for both you and the planet, whether sports drinks are healthy post-workout options, and how exercising outdoors might help you find your happy workout “zone.” It’s summertime and the exercise (and sunshine) is high intensity!

Saving your skin and the coral reefs.

Sunny summer days are upon us—which means enjoying the summer sun while being mindful of sunburns. Grab your hat! And if you’re headed to the beach, you’ll probably want some extra protection with sunblock as well. But what if that product is harmful to the health of coral reefs? Scientists estimate over 14,000 gallons of sunblock are washed into oceans every year—much of this containing harmful chemical elements. To stay sunburn-free without harming marine life, look for brands that do not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Products that contain physical blockers—instead of chemical ones—such as mineral-based zinc are always a safe choice. For more options, search the internet for “reef-safe sunscreen.”

Is your sports drink causing you to gain weight?

We’ve all seen hardcore athletes chugging down sports drinks after an intense game, but should the average Joe or Jane be drinking them, too? While sports drinks are great for rehydration, so is a simple—and cheaper—glass of water. In fact, unless your workout is longer than 60 minutes of intense exercise or 90 minutes of moderate exercise, sports drinks won’t do much more than add up to extra calories of added sugar. At lower levels of intensity, the body alone has all the glycogen it needs for exertion. Plus, if you’re chugging down one of those colorful, fruity brands, you’re most likely also getting an unhealthy dose of artificial colors and flavors—linked with allergic reactions and even cancer. So unless you’re going long distance, high intensity, or losing excessive water and sodium by working out in the sun, try water for a refreshing way to avoid packing on unnecessary pounds.

Can breath exercises and working out outside help you get into “the zone”?

We’ve all had that one run, basketball game, or weightlifting session where we felt like every move was the right move, every action was effortless, and time stood still. Yes, there’s nothing like getting into “the zone”—what researchers call a state of “flow.” But can we only depend on luck to help us get there? It seems that certain techniques, like breath control, can help calm the mind even when the nervous system is emotionally aroused in high-energy activities—helping to minimize distractions and increase your chances of getting into a state of flow. Setting a clear intention before each game/workout as well as performing your sport of choice in a rich, novel environment—such as a nature trail you have yet to explore—are great ways to keep your mind focused on the activity at hand. Research also suggests one gets into “the zone” when performing feats that seem just a little beyond reach—about 4% above one’s natural skill level. So it seems that with a few tweaks, you can have a little flow “luck” on your side any time you want!

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