Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tips for modifying summer exercise

Tips for modifying summer exercise
By: Marissa Anteby

By now we all know the benefits of regular exercise. But maybe we're not too familiar with the changes we need to make in our exercise routines when the warmer weather sets in. Exercising during summer months increases stress levels on our lungs and heart, due to an increase in body temperature. The stress level goes much higher, as the rate of humidity increases. A simple fix to this problem is to consume more water and other essential fluids. Since your body can only absorb 8 ounces of cold water every 20 minutes, it's important to drink even if you don't necessarily feel thirsty. Your work-outs can remain relatively the same if you follow a few other simple guidelines:

Dress for the weather, not the date on the calendar-
My high school Chemistry teacher would be so proud to see me quoting this! He said it all the time, as he saw students sporting new fall wardrobes while it was still 85 degrees outside, or saw kids in Spring fashions even though it might have been an unseasonably blustery day.

Wearing clothing that will wick away sweat, not trap it on your skin's surface, will prevent that dreadful post-workout chill. On the flip side, if it's a cold and windy, don't wear sheer clothing just because the date is August 9th. Put on a few layers. Opt for clothing made of light materials. You want sweat to evaporate as air passes over your body easily. Wear light colors that don't absorb heat, like dark colors do. Sunscreen is an essential every day. Ditto for a hat. Come on people have we learned nothing about the sun's harmful rays?

Choose the right time and place-
If you exercise outdoors, do it before the major heat of the day (better yet, before 11am.) Try to work-out in the mornings or evenings. Find a good location where there is a shaded area and space to move around freely. In front of a pool or ocean is ideal because the sight and sound of water has therapeutic effects.

Don't zoom through your sessions-
Your mind needs time to process all of the benefits of your physical activities. If you move with intention, you are giving your brain a head start on firing the correct synapses in order to maximize coordination. Allowing your body time to gradually warm-up, will help you to adapt to the heat slowly. Increasing the level and intensity of your regime gradually, will prevent you from getting out of breath, and will enable you to complete your exercise session coolly. You don't need rapid-fire zooming movements to get your heart rate up. Now is the time for slower more introspective types of modalities that are intense in a deeper way. For building up strength and sculpting your muscles, and to get a longer leaner appearance, try Yoga, Pilates, a combination of the two, or your own walk on the beach (hello sculpted calves!) Finish your work-out with a cool-down, stretch, and at least a few minutes to sit quietly and reflect on your time with yourself.

Get in to the swim of things-
In addition to the old standbys; jogging, bike riding, indoor cycling classes, or treadmill classes, add more swimming to your repertoire. Swimming is an amazing form of exercise that benefits the body immensely. Swimming is great for people who are rehabilitating from joint or muscle strains. Anyway, during the summer everyone enjoys lingering in the pool for long periods, so why not combine that with some exercise. Use the summer as a time to try something new, like Aqua Aerobics, Pool Pilates, or Watsu. Awww, nobody is watching you, it doesn't matter if you're a beginner, just get in there and splash around. The fact that you may not be proficient at the movements initially, is actually a good thing because your brain is working overtime to educate itself.

Make it a family affair-
Kids love the outdoors, so kick them off the couch and send them out for a run through the sprinklers. Just throwing a ball around is enough to get them started on beneficial aerobic activity. Go join them. Studies show that regular physical activity helps children avoid weight-related high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea.

When in doubt, walk it out-
Walking is considered the most popular exercise in the United States. The cheapest and best investment you can make may very well be - a good pair of sneakers. It's really the only equipment you need! To prevent soreness, walk a little until you are mildly warm, then do a few active stretches, continue your walk at a brisker pace, and wind down with some isolated stretches.

Don't forget to breathe-
I'm not joking. Most of us, don't breathe properly, or hold our breath. By breathing deeply and slowly, you increase oxygen absorption in to your blood stream and avoid dis-ease in the body. A simple technique to get more connected to your breathing is to imagine that you can follow your breathe and watch where it goes throughout your body. Send it to the places where you need the most care and attention - let your breath soften any 'hot spots'.


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