Early summer weather can provide the ultimate motivation to get outside and be active. The sun is shining, nature is in full blossom, and coats and earmuffs are no longer essential.
Summer can give people a certain zest for fitness, but sometimes temperatures can turn good intentions into a sweltering mess. Incorporating new habits and precautions into your warm weather workouts can keep you safe, motivated and cool.
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, offers the following tips to make the most of your summer fitness plans:
1. Fill up on fruit: Water-heavy fruits – watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and grapes – are a great way to boost energy and replenish fluids lost after a workout. Containing more than 80 percent water, these fruits are easily digestible in the summer heat and are a tasty way to keep hydrated and satisfied.
Eating them frozen also makes a refreshing summer treat.
2. Reroute for optimal shade: If your usual running, walking or cycling route makes you an easy target for sun exposure, opt for a shadier course. Road Runners Club of America features running routes around the country on its website, www.rrca.org. Weather.com also offers local park forecasts and a fitness comfort index by the hour – ideal for determining the best time of day to exercise.
3. Incorporate the season into your routine: Make summer chores part of your fitness plan for time-saving and warm weather-friendly exercise. Washing the car, gardening, taking the dog for a walk, and mowing the lawn are all activities on your to-do list that burn calories as a bonus.
4. Pay attention to your heart rate: The hotter it is, the harder your body has to work – so if you normally run at a nine-minute mile pace, when the temperature hits 90 degrees, you may find yourself having to slow down to a 10-minute mile.
Using a heart-rate monitor can help ensure that you aren’t pushing yourself too hard, which can lead to heat exhaustion and strokes. Deluxe heart monitors keep track of not only your heart, but also your speed, distance, pace and calories burned. Models with fewer features can cost as little as $50.
5. Take the path less paved: Walking, running or cycling on dirt or gravel paths can keep the body significantly cooler than paved paths. Asphalt and concrete tend to radiate heat and reflect the sun’s rays, making you feel hotter. Running near bodies of water also has a noticeable cooling effect.
6. Slow it down without sacrifice: To keep safe without giving up calorie burn, perform your regular cardio routine at a slightly slower pace, and then add in 30-second speed bursts every three to five minutes. You’ll maintain the same benefits and burn even more calories without exerting extreme effort the entire workout.
TOPS chapters exist in Western New York for weight loss and wellness education. There is a nominal cost, but the first meeting is free. To find a local chapter, visit www.tops.org or call 932-8677.