Strength Training Can Give You More Time Outdoors This Summer

July is National Parks and Recreation Month—and I don’t mean the TV show. (Sorry, Andy.) The United States National Park Service has over 417 designated parks (including memorials, recreation areas, and scenic trails,) and there are parks in every state. No matter what your level of activity and hobbies outdoors are, there is likely a park within driving range to accommodate you. (You can see for yourself here at Find Your Park.)

These parks are usually at their busiest in the summer when school is out and the weather is nice. All of the summer fun, however, comes with an unexpected statistical uptick among park visitors: cardiac arrests. Unfortunately, cardiac arrests account for a large percentage of all park fatalities every year. In Rocky Mountain National Park, for instance, cardiac arrest comes in second for cause of visitor fatalities just after falls from mountain trails. (Attacks from wild animals, for contrast, was near zero.) Glacier National Park once experienced five separate cardiac medical events in the span of a single weekend. What happens is that folks who normally live sedentary lifestyles suddenly attempt vigorous outdoor physical activity, and they unknowingly put themselves at risk for cardiac arrest or heat related illness. Even healthy, active folks can sometimes push past their limits without realizing it while on a hike or outdoor trip. The problem is common enough that the National Park Medical Services publishes the warning signs of a heart attack on their website.

That’s why, if you’re planning on taking advantage of our nation’s stunning National Parks, you need to get your body ready. A strength training regimen is an excellent way to prepare yourself for fun outdoor physical activities. Not only will your body be stronger and more ready to handle strain, but you’ll find lots of other health benefits, as well. You may attain a lower resting heart rate, because your heart has to work harder to supply blood for your workouts and becomes stronger as a result. A stronger heart means a healthier heart that is more prepared for vigorous physical activity.

Pursuing a strength training regimen with a qualified personal trainer can also help improve your balance and coordination, as it has been shown to have a positive effect on older adults. This means less slips, trips, and falls, and ultimately fewer injuries and downtime. If you do have an accident or overdo it somehow, a strength training regimen can help protect you from injury and make any sports injuries less severe.

According to the abstract of a study called ‘Value of resistance training for the reduction of sports injuries’, “Research indicates that resistance training promotes growth and/or increases in the strength of ligaments, tendons, tendon to bone and ligament to bone junction strength, joint cartilage and the connective tissue sheaths within muscle. Studies involving humans and animal models also demonstrate resistance training can cause increased bone mineral content and therefore may aid in prevention of skeletal injuries. Investigations to date suggest resistance training can aid in injury prevention. The incidence of various types of overuse injuries, such as swimmers shoulder and tennis elbow, may be reduced by the performance of sport and/or motion specific resistance training activities.” You can read the abstract here.

As the study shows, a strength training regimen can help your muscles, tendons and ligaments grow stronger to avoid getting injured, and even help make your bones stronger to resist breaks and fractures. It will also make overuse injuries less likely, and help condition your body to do all of the things you want to do to live an active, fun life that includes lots of time in the great outdoors with family. That’s what strength training is really all about—conditioning and improving your body so that you can get more out of life. Get Outdoors!!

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