If you're breaking your fitness monotony this winter, with runs and yoga in the park, expect a slight change in routine. Carrying out cardio and resistance training in the open will come with its own challenges that you may have not encountered in the gym. You'll be concerned about keeping hydrated, dealing with sweaty activewear, storing personal belongings, tracking important metrics and more.
It takes a bit of preparation on your end before you hit the beach or the neighbourhood park, but fret not - you'll find the transition much easier with the right gear and tips. Kirti Thakur, a Dubai-based fitness trainer of seven years and co-founder of the coaching app Last Fitness, tells us that the ideal ambient temperature for working out lies between 23 to 24 degrees Celsius.
"It's good to get the outside air, and it also gets pretty nice at night for walks. Your choice of exercise depends on what temperature you can handle or are used to. At an intermediate level, people can jog, run, do bodyweight exercises, like jumping jacks and jump squats," advised Thakur.
Exercising outdoors begins with keeping muscle cramps at bay. "If you're a beginner, never go outdoors without a light meal or else, you can experience cramps and dizziness. Have a peanut butter sandwich, apple, banana, some walnuts or dates 45 minutes prior. I'd also recommend carrying a water bottle in a waist belt for sipping throughout a session," she explained.
Always start off slowly with enough time dedicated to warming up. Thakur suggests walking for 10 minutes and then moving to mild jogging to gradually increase the heart rate. Choosing the right sports footwear is just as crucial for a sustainable and cramp-free run.
Even in pleasant, cool weather, humidity can be a constant phenomenon. "My personal outdoor challenge is facing a lot of sweating, especially with all the humidity if you live near Dubai Marina," said Thakur, who has added dry shampoo, sweatproof sunscreen, and a water-resistant sports band for her fitness tracker, in order to combat moisture in her outdoor routine.
We've taken down Thakur's tried-and-tested solutions to common outdoor problems, and added other helpful workout gear for you below. Join the many fitness fanatics taking to the streets in Dubai this season, and shop with an Amazon Prime membership for free, fast delivery.
1. Best Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Sense 2
- Six months of free membership with guided sessions and training
- Tracks sleep, stress, heart rate, daily acitivity and more
- 40-plus exercise modes with GPS
- High visibility in the sun
- Water-resistant in up to 50 metres
- Battery doesn't last six days as stated
- Some advanced features work with a premium subscription
You've stepped out to work out but have no idea where to begin - a fitness tracker lets you carry training apps on the wrist, offering guided sessions. "You can set timers on sports watches and sync your data with free training apps. For instance, if you want to run a 5k (5km), you'll get guided sessions on the app on how to do it," said Thakur. The Fitbit Sense 2 is a tracker most of her clients opt for, and substitutes well for metrics tracking on gym equipment. Compatible with iOS 13 or higher and Android OS 8.0 or higher, the tracker measures heart rate around the clock, comes with built-in GPS and lets you choose from 40-plus exercise modes, including yoga and bike rides. It also helps you prepare with relaxing breathing sessions, a readiness score and advanced stress management. After purchase, you get a bonus sneak peek into Fitbit's premium membership for six months - that's free guided sessions and exclusive workout plans tailored just for you, which reviewers love. Do note that Sense 2 doesn't allow access to third-party apps, however.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh64.80 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh46 and two years for Dh75.
2. Best Workout Planner: WorkoutLabs Exercise Cards: Bodyweight
Another great way to overcome an exercise block is by keeping a handful of workout flashcards on your person. A deck full of guided movements and rep counts not only reduces unnecessary screen time, but lets you create your own routines for the entire season. The WorkoutLabs Exercise Cards packs contains 60 easy-to-challenging moves with anatomical illustrations, tips and intensity levels. These cards target the upper body, core muscles and lower body, so there's something for everyone. Reviewers find them easy to follow, especially with the colour-coded target areas on each card. They've been able to put together simple routines, which can be switched up to keep things interesting.
3. Best for Cramps: Scivation Xtend Original BCAA, Strawberry Kiwi Splash, 90 Servings
With proper hydration, you'll be able to extend your sessions and train for longer. Thakur recommends mixing BCAA powder (branched-chain amino acids) into your water: "I've tested it out personally for three-hour intensive workouts, and it's helped me lengthen my total training period." If you suffer from frequent cramps, try out our expert-picked BCAA. The Scivation Xtend is a sugar-free, zero-calorie branched-chain amino acids powder with 3.5 grams of leucine for muscle protein synthesis. Sip on this solution before, during and after workouts to replenish electrolytes and support muscle recovery.
4. Best Running Belt: G-Run Hydration Running Belt
An invaluable gear for walking, running and jogging, a hydration belt fits all your on-the-go necessities, including water. Everything you need, from your smartphone to protein bars, has a space on the waist in this G-Run running belt. It comes with two 295ml bottles that are secured on either side of the waist with a main zippered compartment in the centre, big enough to fit a seven-inch phone. Sure enough, a waist contraption could raise doubts about comfort levels on a run - the G-Run belt is fitted with elastic nylon straps to keep it from bouncing and being disruptive. Runners in the reviews test it out on long 15km races and confirm that the belt stays true to the description, staying put even with filled water bottles. Others also add that the bottles don't leak.
5. Best Anti-Chafe Balm: KT Health Chafe Safe
Don't let the dreaded thigh and underarm chafing stop you from clearing that last kilometre. While it's not a common complaint during strength training, Thakur says that painful friction of the thighs can occur on runs, since "we carry more fat in the lower part of the body" and the constant leg rub in sweaty conditions could cause further irritation. Just glide an anti-chafing stick along the inner thighs and elsewhere to prevent blisters. The KT Tape Chafe Safe works for up to 24 hours and is formulated for high-activity performance. Its gel formula is sweat- and humidity-resistant, making reapplications less frequent. Reviewers who've been sprinting for 30 years pin this stick down as an essential. It's non-greasy, washes off easily and lasts longer than other brands.
6. Best Outdoor Sunscreen: Heliocare 360 Spray Invisible SPF50+
We still need protection against the winter sun, but your regular sunblock might not fare well in the face of sweat and humidity. Heliocare 360 spray is our number-one sunscreen for outdoor exercise, as recommended by our dermatology expert, for its convenient aerosol dispenser. It's specially formulated for an active lifestyle with broad spectrum protection of SPF50+ (PA++++) against UVA and UVB rays. The spray applies clear without feeling sticky on the skin. The best part is that this sunscreen is water- and sand-resistant, great for hot yoga on the beach.
7. Best Activewear Shirt: Under Armour Men's Tech 2.0
Finally, invest in a couple of reliable moisture-wicking T-shirts for training. The best fit for a sprint must be "neither extremely tight nor loose", says Thakur, and the ideal fabric should soak up sweat. This Under Armour men's training shirt is made from UA Tech polyester, the brand's own quick-drying, anti-odour material. The fabric is stretchy with a longer back hem, which prevents the T-shirt from riding up during large movements. It also has no-pluck shoulders to avoid any uncomfortable chafing at the seams. According to reviewers, they've come across no sweat stains or odour. It wears airy and light throughout any activity.
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