Summer is coming! You know what that means - soaring temperatures and endless distractions. It’s a season for family vacationing and lounging poolside with friends. Longer days mean later nights, and for many of us, it takes more dedication than usual to keep up with our fitness goals.
But your health doesn’t take a vacation, and neither should you! A little bit of sun is no excuse for abandoning regular exercise habits. In fact, as the mercury rises this season, you should consider taking advantage of new options for getting moving and staying strong.
Here are five tips for making the most of your summer:
#1. GET OUTSIDE
That’s right! It may be tempting to flee to that air-conditioned gym when the temperatures are rising, but working out in the heat offers benefits, too. For one, it causes you to sweat earlier in your workout, increasing blood flow to the skin and activating your body’s self-regulation mechanisms. This conditions your body to cool itself more efficiently. It also increases your training stress load and burns more calories, which means you get more bang for your exercise buck. Being in the sun also boosts your vitamin D production, and the fresh air sure beats the stale smell of sweat indoors!
But it’s also important to play it safe in the heat. Keep well-hydrated (more on that in a minute) and pace yourself. Start gradually and work your way up to longer workouts. You don’t have to work out nearly as long in the summer sun to get the same benefits - so don’t overdo it.
#2. HAVE A BALL
Exercise doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Summer is a wonderful time for getting your friends and family together for outdoor team games. Whether it’s half-court basketball, shirts-and-skins soccer, or a good old-fashioned beach volleyball match, these competitive sports get your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping. It’s good exercise, and it’s FUN! So while you’re building summer vacation memories, you can also be building muscles and cardiovascular fitness.
#3. DIVE IN
It’s summer, so of course you’re going to be heading to the beach or a community pool. Getting wet is a great way to beat the heat, but water sports offer some of the most comprehensive fitness opportunities out there. Swimming - even casually - builds endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. It’s both an aerobic exercise and a form of low-intensity resistance training - the functional equivalent of jogging with weights. And there’s no time like the summer to take your swimming hobby to the next level. If water aerobics classes and swimming laps aren’t your thing, then why not get more adventurous and go snorkeling - or even try scuba diving? Now there’s an all-over exercise experience you won’t soon forget!
#4. DRINK UP
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again. Stay hydrated! Your body needs about 8-10 glasses of water every day, even under normal conditions. In the summer, when you’re breaking a sweat far more often, you need to be drinking even more than that (at least 10-12 glasses daily). Drink before, during, and after your most intense workouts. And be on the lookout for signs of dehydration in yourself and others throughout the season. Lethargy, irritability, headaches, muscle cramps, and dark urine are all signs of potential dehydration.
#5. BE SMART
We know it’s summer, and that means you’re going to be drinking a lot more than water while you’re hanging out with friends and enjoying the great outdoors. Cheers! But remember to be smart about combining sun and alcohol. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are diuretics - meaning they induce urination. Alcohol intake also increases heart rate (like exercise, without the fitness benefits), which means you’ll sweat more easily, even if you’re not moving much. If you aren’t careful, you’ll become dehydrated without even realizing it. So make a habit of keeping a bottle of water handy at all times, and be sure to drink at least one glass of water for every non-water beverage you consume during the day.
Whether your summer plans involve a trip to an exotic tropical island or lazing about in the big city, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy while enjoying the longer days. Go for an early morning run or evening bike ride. Consider taking up an active new hobby like stand-up paddleboarding or paragliding. Go camping someplace you’ve never been before, or head to a waterpark with the whole family. Whatever you do, we’ve got you covered with active-ready fitness gear, so you can focus on what matters the most - having good summer fun!