It is no secret that being physically fit prevents illness, keeps or gets us lean, and is ideal for overall health. Everyone has their own definition of fitness. Although May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, fitness should be an attainable goal all year long.
The trouble with summer fitness is…it’s hot outside! Heat for many can be a huge deterrent to consistent exercise. Other barriers to working out in the summer-time? Vacations and travel, chasing kids, new injuries as a result of weekend warrior syndrome, and other pesky summer issues.
If you have any doubts about your exercise and fitness regimen, here are some summer fitness strategies and tips to freshen up your summer routine and keep you healthy and motivated.
1. What are your time obligations during the summer? Does the nature of your job change with the seasons? Perhaps you are a seasonal worker, college student, or school-teacher. A drastic change in work routine can be a barrier to finding the right time to exercise. Squeeze in short walks throughout the day. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too. Make lunchtime count. While at work, keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk, and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
If your summer evenings are free and it is cooler to exercise, try these tips:
- Start a walking group. Round up friends, neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall. Simply walking or jogging with a friend can be an added incentive to continue your workouts.Boredom is a workout killer and having a friend along can help keep you both accountable.
- Visit your community recreation center or local swimming pool. Many recreation programs are offered after work hours. Join a club or summer sport team. In a recent post, “Who Says Adults Can’t Have Recess” there are non-competitive alternatives for organized sports
If evenings don’t work, try getting up earlier. The sun is up earlier on summer mornings, so an early morning walk or run can kick-start your day. Wake up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.
If your days are limited, add more time to your workout. If you are walking for 20 minutes, add five more minutes to your time over the next two weeks. When you feel ready, add another five minutes, and so on. In a previous post, I suggested ways to get three hours a week for fitness.
2. If your exercise has become boring, revamp your routine. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids could become a weekly Saturday bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool. Choose activities you enjoy and you will be more likely to stay interested.
Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or body pump. Adding new exercises and rotating through different type of activities, such as walking, swimming and cycling, works out new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine.
3. No energy to exercise? Without exercise, you’ll have no energy. It’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps you are a stay-at-home-parent and spend your summers chasing your kids. Longer summer evenings mean more time for evening fitness activities with your family. After dinner, get everyone moving during a brisk evening walk.
4. Are you a weekend warrior who is nursing a sports injury? Get professional help from a certified expert, who can monitor your movements and point you in the right direction. If your injury is serious, visit a sports medicine physician, who can evaluate you and recommend specific treatment, such as physical therapy.
If you belong to a gym, hiring a personal trainer can boost your workout as well as introduce you to new exercises. A trainer can motivate you and give you the proper exercises to help heal the injury and get you back on track.
5. If you are planning a long vacation or holiday where traveling will take you away from your routine, try these suggestions:
- If your vacation takes you into the outdoors on a daily basis, embrace what the area has to offer. Plan ahead and pack the right shoes, clothing and equipment to enjoy the hiking trails, the lakes or other wonderful leisure spaces available to you.
- Are you staying in a resort or hotel? Check to see what amenities it offers to guests.
- If you are traveling and visiting friends or family members, ask them what they do for exercise. If you belong to a national chain health club, find a nearby gym and schedule time to go. Or visit their gym as a guest. Just about every neighborhood has a local park with recreation facilities like jogging/walking trail, tennis courts, club house or swimming pool. Again, plan ahead by asking your hosts for the name of the organization and check their online class schedule.
6. Quantify what you have accomplished so far. Keeping a record over a period of time and seeing results can be extremely motivating. Write down how many days you exercise, for how long, record any inches or weight lost (or gained). Do your clothes feel looser? Keeping an exercise journal can be very simple, from jotting on a notepad to keeping track on a mobile app. By writing things down, you can visually see what you have accomplished and see what else you might need to do to adjust.
7. Check out your gear. If you are wearing the same old shoes you’ve had since 2011, look for wear and tear to make sure you aren’t causing harm to your feet, knees and legs. If you swim, take a close look at your goggles or perhaps fins if using them. Many stores have summer clearance sales. Now is the time to buy something new to add to your exercise wardrobe. Nothing like a bright color to put a spring in your step!
Don’t let hot weather prevent you from getting your exercise each day. Don’t let a couple of setbacks be a barrier to regular exercise. Life can get in the way and disrupt our routines. Unfortunately, it seems easier to abandon our exercise plans when faced with time constraints or other barriers.
We all need to live balanced lives, and committing to leisure in the form of exercise in a consistent manner can lead to better health and happiness!