With the temperatures beginning to soar, we can’t help but feel that summer is in the air. Although we seem to have jumped from winter right past spring into summer, it doesn’t give us the excuse to stop being active. Did you know that many people fail to stay consistent with their fitness regimen in the summer, causing more weight gain than in the winter? Before you let the summer sun call you away from your sneakers and into your hammock, try to remember all the reasons it’s so important to stay active all year long.
If you decide to take the warmer months off, you can easily lose the new abilities you have gained over the cooler ones. Maybe you are finally able to hold a plank or do pushups on your toes, or run a mile or even be able to reach your laces while you stretch. Taking off the warmer months to relax and soak in the sun sounds great but be ready to start all over again in the fall. If you plan on taking a hiatus, you should be prepared to lose your aerobic capacity that you have built up that now allows you to cruise through those cardio workouts. According to sports scientist Dr. Tony Boutagy, who is also the director of the Boutagy Fitness Institute, “Taking a break of more than a couple of days causes your cardiovascular fitness to drop off very quickly.” If you have been Spinning®, taking Zumba® or any other consistent cardiovascular training, don’t stop! All the extra things you do outside will just be an added bonus, and perhaps help burn off those extra BBQ calories we all consume in the summer.
Strength training isn’t something that will last you a lifetime — if you stop. Strength training is so important that national guidelines and The American Heart Association recommend strength training at least twice per week. According to Dr. Boutagy, “Within two weeks you’ll probably start to show a 7-10% loss in strength levels.” Just imagine how much you could lose between Memorial Day and Labor Day! If you are thinking of ditching your dumbbells this summer for even strolls around town, think again, you really do want to keep up with resistance training. Maybe use your nightly walk as a warm up and come home and lift some weights or use resistance tubes. But make sure you are really fitting in focused strength training. If that’s a weak area for you, try a group fitness class. Many people struggle to self-motivate in the summer, making group fitness classes a huge asset for keeping you fit all summer long.
Staying flexible is very important and not to be discounted. Flexibility is a huge component in what keeps us independent and capable. From being able to tie our own shoes to being able to reach into the back seat, flexibility is surely something we miss once we start to lose it. Stretching is something many people could always do more of, but many of us don’t know how or where to start. Taking a class with a certified professional is a safe way to increase your flexibility; you could do this with all sorts of classes from yoga to Pilates or Tai chi. In these classes you can work on your flexibility in a structured and focused way that will help you surpass your flexibility goals.
When you think of summer you may dream of lazy days on the beach or even just sitting on your porch with a cold drink. What may make that feeling even more satisfying is knowing that you already put in your work to keep up your active lifestyle. Make time to keep active this spring/summer, and all year long. Staying active helps us to stay independent and strong, with the added benefits of battling mood disorders and depression, helping to maintain a healthy weight or even lose weight along with the comradery one gains by participating in healthy group activities.
Look for ways to be more active this summer! Keep up your fitness routine, but also think outside the gym by learning to kayak or play badminton, take a hike or go for a nature walk. Join the kids playing soccer or throw the baseball around. Moving is a great way not only to get your exercise but to also build great memories. You may even end the summer slimmer and stronger than you started! Summer is almost here – let’s have some fun and remember to stay active!