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posted: 5/20/2013 5:54 AM

Your health: Move workouts outdoors

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  • Exercising outside can be more challenging with terrain changes and wind resistance, but it's also better for your overall mood.

    Exercising outside can be more challenging with terrain changes and wind resistance, but it's also better for your overall mood.


Get out, work out

If you've forgotten what it's like to exercise outside during the dreary winter and wet spring, says The Washington Post, that's where the sun shines, breezes blow and birds chirp.

Also it's where drivers come around corners without looking and holes in the outfield grass grab and twist your ankles.

"You find yourself when you are outside the comfort zone," says Jimmy Minardi, an athletic coach based in Aspen and Santa Barbara who is writing a book about the benefits of outdoor exercise. "You are constantly surveying your environment and adapting to it. Adapting to change is a primal need."

Confronting an uncontrolled environment -- heat, hills, head winds and uneven pavement, for example -- provides a tougher workout than a comparable routine indoors and stimulates the senses. Outdoor workouts have been associated with stronger feelings of revitalization, more energy and less tension than indoor exercise.

"You find joy outside," Minardi says.

You'll also find vitamin D from sunlight, which helps you absorb calcium and promotes bone growth.

When warm weather does arrive, however, remember that acclimating to heat can take 10 to 14 days of exposure and exercise, according to the American Council on Exercise. Once that happens, you'll produce more cooling sweat and lose fewer electrolytes, according to the group.

And, of course, don't forget to hydrate adequately. Trust your thirst. It won't steer you wrong.

Anxiety app

Anxiety disorders can be debilitating. For people who don't seek professional help, a new iPhone app offers guidance in the palm of their hands, according to The Washington Post.

AnxietyCoach, developed by two clinical psychologists and the Mayo Clinic, allows people to track their worries; based on a user's responses, the app suggests therapeutic exercises. It costs $4.99.

Users begin by taking a short test to measure the severity of the anxiety. The app then creates a plan to deal with the problems. Users select situations -- such as talking to authority figures, being observed while eating, and using public restrooms -- that make them anxious. Each situation is linked to a to-do list, exercises that the app's creators say challenge people to face their fears.

For example, if someone has a fear of speaking in public, the app would suggest "Give a compliment to a stranger" or "Approach and join an ongoing conversation."

An exercise such as "Purposely mispronounce a word during a conversation" might seem counterintuitive, but it can show someone with anxiety about speaking that he can recover from a minor verbal stumble.

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