Fitness in the Summertime
by Eric Cornelison, PhD
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete who’s been training all your life, or just getting started on a new exercise program, finding time to workout when the warm weather hits can become a rather daunting challenge.
Turn your summer fun into opportunities for fitness
From ballgames to backyard barbecues, the warm weather brings many activities that can lead to more eating and less exercise. Life is not a dress rehearsal, and for most of us, giving up a day of picnicking on the beach or a sunny morning on the golf course for the dank artificial cool of the local health club, presents no real choice.
So go ahead, bring the kids to the park, spend the weekend at the shore, do whatever it is your heart desires while the sun sits high in the sky. Exercise and summer fun can go hand and hand — achieving a sort-of two bird with one stone effect. And by following a few simple suggestions, you can turn your day at the shore into fun and fitness.
Walk it off
Instead of just lying on the beach all day, take a walk along the shoreline. The extra effort that it takes to walk briskly on the soft, sandy surface will contribute to the overall fat burning effect.
While vacationing at your favorite summer getaway, steer clear of cars and cabs, and walk wherever and whenever possible. Wear a pedometer and make a goal of 10,000 steps or four miles per day as you walk from various hotels, restaurants and other activities. This will help balance out the extra calories you may take in.
Play, don’t lay
Get off that beach blanket and join in the fun — play some volleyball, toss around a frisbee, go for a swim, or body surf. Just don’t lie there for four hours roasting in the sun. If picnicking with friends or family members, organize or join in a softball game, play horseshoes, folf (frisbee golf) or take a hike in the woods. Get in the middle of whatever happens to be going on.
When vacationing at your favorite all-inclusive Caribbean Island, you’ll be offered to participate in an endless stream of events from an afternoon match of water polo to singing and dancing in a combination employee/guest Broadway like stage production. Don’t pass the chance to make calorie burning this much fun.
Enjoy your fun time in the sun by splashing in the pool. Instead of just sitting poolside in the lounge chair sipping iced tea, jump on in and swim laps or gear up with a water jogger and have a non-impact run. You can even rally your family or friends to join you for a game of water volleyball or swimming races. If you’re vacationing, take advantage of the hotel or cruise ship pool — some facilities even offer aqua aerobics classes. If you’re beach bound, take a jog down the shoreline in knee deep waves — the extra resistance from the water will give you a tougher workout than a water-free run.
Try something new
Though vacations and travel to new places provide the opportunity to do novel activities — fitness or otherwise — you can take up a new sport or type of outdoor exercise at home base, too. Take your bike to a local trail system and do a different trail every week. Strap on some roller blades and stride beach side or through a park in your locale. Join an outdoor recreational group and enjoy the sunny fun activities available in your neighborhood. Instead of yoga class, do your yoga routine on a local hill or mountain top as the sun rises or sets. Simply make a goal of doing a new physical activity every week and you’ll stay fit all summer long.
Body weight alone can provide all or most of the resistance you’ll need to improve both strength and endurance, while at the same time burning fat and toning up the entire body. The addition of some very lightweight, inexpensive items can provide you with a level of variety, safety, and an overall more effective approach to staying fit. When traveling, you can get a workout by simply packing lightweight exercise tools and taking in the sights.
- Resistance bands, or tubing have been popular with physical therapist for years, as they offer a safe and effective way to challenge muscles when recovering from injury, without placing undue strain on surrounding joints. Lengths of tubing that come in various resistance levels, weigh almost nothing, and take up virtually no space in the most over-packed suitcase. When combined with a simple door anchor, bands offer a wide variety of exercise options. They’re also are a great substitute for stationary and more expensive forms of resistance equipment.
- An exercise mat is a must-have. Put it between yourself and any hotel room floor. Inexpensive mats tri-fold, and fit nicely folded into a traveling bag. It can be used to do push ups on a sandy surface, or sit ups on an unpadded floor. A good mat provides solid traction and footing for many simple floor type exercises.
- A summer day spent walking around any big city or strolling through a countryside is a plethora of sights, sounds and beautiful experiences. Whether you’re on vacation or simply need your daily outdoor fix, set out on foot, have a great time, and burn some extra calories with every step.
- So go ahead and enjoy yourself. The amount of stress relief you’ll gain from enjoying life will be well worth a few missed workouts. In the process, you can continue to exercise your body in a possibly, much needed, new fashion. You’ll be surprised at how a few simple adjustments can keep you fit all summer long.
Travel Light Workout
This workout can be done anywhere (including at home), giving you no excuse to skip your daily exercise.
Push up: Chest/arms/shoulders: Lie face down on the floor or mat, hands on the floor, palms down, slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and toes curled under on the floor. Your back and legs are straight. Exhale as you slowly straighten your arms and push your body away from the floor. Inhale, lowering yourself back down to the point where your chest comes within a few inches of the floor. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions). To reduce overall intensity, perform the modified push up instead of the classic version.
Modified push up: Everything remains the same as in the regular push-up, except the knees are bent and remain on the floor throughout the movement instead of the feet. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions).
Leg raise: Abs/core: Lie supine on a mat or padded carpet, legs straight, both hands under your buttocks to help maintain the proper pelvic tilt (engages abs), while you press the lower back into the floor. With your head held off the floor a few inches, (if necessary, place a mat or pillow under the neck for support) exhale as you bring your knees to your chest. Inhale as you straighten your legs to a point where your feet are a few inches off the floor, then bring knees back into the chest. Ankle weights will increase intensity, while the knees can remain partially bent throughout the movement to reduce it. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 20 to 30 reps).
Cable row: Arms/back/shoulders: Sit on the floor legs straight out in front of you, upper body upright and the resistance tubing wrapped around your feet (or other safe anchor). Grab onto the ends of the tubing with both hands, exhale and pull your hands into your abdomen, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting position. Motions should be slow and deliberate. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 repetitions).
Rearward lunge: Thighs/hips/buttocks: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms at your sides. Inhale and take a large step backward with the left foot to a point where your left knee is a few inches above the floor (or as close as you can comfortably go) and your right knee does not extend past the toes of your right foot. Your hands remain at your sides, gaze forward. Exhale and step forward with the left leg returning to the starting position. Finish all reps with the left leg before repeating with the right. To make the movement less difficult, alternate legs from rep to rep. Repeat to muscle fatigue (in the range of 10 to 20 reps).
Travel Light exercise guidelines
- Warm up with 5 minutes of walking or stepping in place
- Do all four exercises one, two, or three times through
- Rest from one to three minutes between each set
- Rest at least 48 hours before repeating the same exercises
- Combine with brisk walking/jogging on the same or alternate days
Dr. Eric Cornelison is a fitness and exercise expert that has written numerous health articles for http://dailyworkoutroutines.com and many other magazines. His years of experience as an athlete, coach and professor gives him the credentials to discuss healthy living and exercise regiments.