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ADD VARIETY TO YOUR WORKOUT BY EXERCISING OUTDOORS

With the warmer weather for the summer, this is a great opportunity to change your workout and get outside.

Fresh air and sunshine renew energy and unleash mood-boosting endorphins. Here's how to make the leap from treadmill to the trails.

Protect yourself
Wear well-cushioned walking shoes, a hat with a protective visor, and sunscreen. Choose sweat-wicking clothes to keep you dry on brisk days.

Start slowly, progress gradually
Substitute 1 outdoor day for an indoor day each week.   For example, if you usually exercise 3 times a week on the treadmill, the first week, walk 1 day outside and 2 days on the treadmill. The second week, walk 2 days outside, 1 inside, etc.

Give your body extra respect
Expect outdoor walking to feel a bit awkward at first. You may take longer strides and use more of your lower leg muscles on uneven surfaces and for push-off. Avoid injury and muscle soreness by walking at a slower pace for 5 minutes before your workout and by stretching after every walk.

Soak up your surroundings
Notice the sky, clouds, and flowers. Say hi to your neighbors. Keep your eyes focused several feet in front of you so that you can anticipate terrain and traffic.

Be your own computer
If you like the feedback treadmills give about pace and distance, try timing yourself on a walking track. Most tracks are 1/4 mile. If you walk four laps in 15 minutes, your pace is 4 mph.   You can also purchase a pedometer if you really need assistance with measuring how many actual steps you are taking.

Be Safe

If you are walking in a heavily trafficked area, leave the ipod at home so you can hear any oncoming traffic, or other noises that can alert you to be safe.

By being patient and following these steps, you can enjoy the new weather, experience a revival from the change in routine and still keep fit!