Robert P. Olson, MD
Exercising during the summer months ought to be easy. As our days get warmer, it’s generally easier to fit a run or walk in. But summer is also a time to slip out of regular routines — especially if your kids are out of school and schedules have shifted.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. If you’re just starting an exercise program or want to keep one going, here are seven ways to keep summer schedules from derailing your fitness efforts.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
- Start small. Many exercisers start off with a big plan — to run three miles without stopping or to exercise every day for a week. But the body needs time to adjust to those new physical demands, and if you start too much too soon, the mental and physical effort can be too much. Instead, start with a small goal, perhaps a 10 minute walk, a walk/run combination for a mile or a twice-weekly exercise schedule. It’s more reinforcing to start small and accomplish the goal than set a tough goal that you give up on.
- Switch up your summer routine to make exercising more convenient. Instead of driving across town during rush hour to go to the gym, consider fitting exercise into your current activities. Run around the track during your daughter’s soccer practice. With daylight lasting longer, introduce a new activity of after-dinner walks with the family, or a game of 21 at the basketball court at the park.
- Make exercise social and fun. Join a team to play a sport, train for a race or be a gym buddy. Knowing someone will miss you if you don’t show up can be a powerful motivator. And, by finding activities that you enjoy, you may get your steps in without even noticing.
- Switch up your exercise for summer. If you exercise outside, it may be harder to get the same results you had when the weather was cooler and less humid. Consider exercising in the early morning, late evening, inside or on shady trails. Remember that you may not be able to exercise as fast or as long in the heat, and adjust your expectations for that.
- Think about HIIT programs (high-interval intensity training). HIIT programs provide an intense workout in a shorter period of time — perfect for fitting exercise into a busy summer schedule.
- Use technology to keep you motivated. It’s helpful to chart your progress, and a variety of tech tools can help you do just that. Smart watches can calculate your speed, heart rate and distance for every run or ride. Phone apps provide personalized training plans, on-demand classes and intel on when you need to run from the zombies — giving you a different activity every time you exercise, if you want.
- Maintain variety. Keep exercise fresh and fun by doing different activities. Not only does this keep you from getting bored, it also helps your body avoid overuse of the same muscles. Don’t forget to stretch after exercise too. This is an important part of cooling down and helps prevent injury.
Experts often say that the best exercise for you is the one you’ll actually do. Find the activities you enjoy and make it your goal to fit them into your summer calendar of fun.
SOURCE: ORLANDO HEALTH