Summer is a time for fun and relaxation. It’s also an opportunity to get in shape or maintain the healthy lifestyle you committed to earlier in the year. Here are some tips from Gold’s Gym experts to help make summer your healthiest season yet.
1. Snack seasonally
Produce harvested at its peak ripeness is more flavorful and full of nutrients, since it isn’t picked too early or transported far from where it grows. Make your menu fresh and delicious with these fruits and veggies in their summer prime:
2. Think small servings
Go ahead: Enjoy those weekend cookouts and flag down the ice cream truck. Just remember to control your portion size. At a picnic or cookout, fill half your plate with fruits and veggies before getting barbecue or potato salad, and choose a small popsicle over a multi-scoop ice cream cone.
3. Go for a swim
Adam Friedman, a Gold’s Gym fitness expert, likes to take the plunge. “Swimming challenges our bodies, but not in a way that puts stress on our joints,” he says. “I recommend people do breath holds: swimming underwater as long as they can without pushing their limits too far. It adds an extra level of exertion, that’s a good physical challenge.”
Whether you’re at the pool, lake or ocean, the number one rule is to be safe. “Make sure you’re with a partner,” Friedman says. It can also help to swim in the morning. “I definitely do my best to get out earlier in the day, before the sun gets too harsh.”
4. Jam to a summer playlist
Music helps motivate your exercise efforts, so turn up the volume and get moving! Need help? Download GOLD’S AMPTM to find some beats that will help set your workout pace.
5. Catch the sunrise
Because daylight begins later in the morning and lasts later in the day, your natural sleep cycle can get thrown off a little during the summer. Keep things on track by going outside at first light during those months. “Get in the sun to put some cortisol into your system and help you wake up,” Friedman says. “As soon as it gets dark, try to eliminate all blue light [from screens] so your body can start naturally producing the melatonin that will help you sleep.”
6. Stay hydrated
The summer heat can make you sweat more than you would during other times of year. Go into your workouts fully hydrated, especially if you’re outside. “If you need to drink water while you are working out, it should be because it’s dry from breathing through your mouth, not because you are actually thirsty,” says Gold’s Gym Coach Sandy Brockman. “I drink 10 ounces of water as soon as I wake up in the morning to get on the right track.”
7. Sprinkle in some salt
Your body needs to replace what you’re sweating out, which is more than just water. Examples of the electrolytes your body expends include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium and phosphate. There are a lot of sports drinks on the market that claim to be the best at replacing electrolytes, but Friedman takes a different approach. “Add a pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt to your water,” he says. “It helps replace the minerals you’re using.”
8. Warm up like you’re at the World Cup
If this summer’s competition has you fired up, incorporate a soccer-style warmup into your workout with soldier walks, inch worms and bear crawls. Here’s the breakdown from Daron Johnson, a Gold’s Gym trainer:
- Soldier walk: Standing upright, do a front kick to waist-high, bringing one leg up straight without bending the knee and simultaneously extending the opposite hand to try to touch the toe without hunching. Then switch, using the opposite hand and foot. Take a step forward with each alternating kick.
- Inch worms: From a standing position, bend over as if you’re going to touch your toes but place your hands flat on the ground in front of you. (Depending on your flexibility, you may need to slightly bend your knees or place your hands a few inches away from your feet.) Slowly walk your hands forward until your body is in a plank position, and then slowly walk your feet forward to meet your hands, returning to the bent position. Repeat.
- Bear crawls: Begin on your hands and knees, and then lift your knees off the ground and crawl forward, moving with one hand and the opposite foot and then switching to the opposite hand and corresponding foot, without letting your knees touch the ground. During your strides, your shins should be parallel to the ground.
“You become more athletic by doing movements that the body is not accustomed to,” Johnson says.
9. Turn your hangout into a workout
Happy hour is fun but not always healthy. Make your hangouts active instead. Try different fitness classes, go on long walks to see those summer sunsets or ride bikes to your favorite restaurant and enjoy a tasty brunch on the patio, knowing you burned calories in advance.
10. Use the weather to push further
Heat helps in reducing muscle tightness and joint stiffness, allowing for a faster warmup, Johnson says. Use that warmth to try deeper stretches and more challenging moves in yoga or Pilates. “I suggest anyone — and I mean anyone — do yoga,” he says. “It will improve the mind and body.”
Remember, heat can also be dangerous if you’re not paying attention to your body. If you feel dizzy, faint or nauseous, find a cool, shady place to rest and rehydrate.
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