Health & Fitness: The Summer Challenge

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Health & Fitness: It’s summer, the most popular season of the year! We love the warmth and longer days, the feeling of new energy and the abundant colours and scents of nature. Summer is also the season to ban excuses and take up a challenge. We can make changes and feel the benefits quickly, giving us motivation to stick to our plans in winter, too.

Which changes are we talking about? Of course, a healthy lifestyle involves more sleep, less alcohol, daily meditation and exercise. There are two essential cornerstones to ensure you’re in the best of health: eat healthily and get moving! Summer is the easiest time to do it. Let’s see why…

“I don’t have time!” This is the most frequent excuse to explain why we haven’t adopted healthy habits. “I don’t have time to cook!” is the most common excuse for explaining why we continue to buy processed food or ready- made meals, although we know that they’re poor quality, not nutritionally balanced and full of hidden sugar, fat, salt and preservatives. They should only be eaten as a stop-gap and definitely not on a regular basis. In summer, preparing meals is easier because it often doesn’t involve any cooking at all. Salad, a piece of cheese, grilled fish or boiled eggs very quickly provide a balanced meal, bursting with health and full of flavour. If you need ideas, use the internet to find millions of recipes for your summer ingredients.

“I don’t have time to do sport!” Who hasn’t heard that excuse or even used it? In spring and summer, our days are longer and brighter, we have more energy and we leave the office in daylight! Summer is the best time to fulfil the World Health Organization’s recommendations: “Adults aged 18-64 years should perform a minimum of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity every week.” How can you do this? 150 minutes a week is only 21.42 minutes a day! Our summer days are bright for an average of 16 hours, so it’s easy to find 20 minutes for exercise. You could cycle to work if the distance and route permit; forget the car during weekends; go for a walk during your lunch break or when you get home; play with your children in the garden or the park; play tennis, roller skate, do gardening, go swimming or try jogging.

“Gyms are boring!” This is a substantial barrier, particularly for women. The World Health Organization recommends: “Muscle strengthening activities using the principal muscle groups should be practised at least twice a week”. Your sports club is the best- equipped place, with experts to supervise activities in group classes or in the gym. During summer you can exercise outdoors on sunny days. You don’t need much equipment; a park can become your gym. Use a bench for step- ups or jump-ups, tri dips (for the triceps) and push ups (for the chest). Find a strong tree branch to use for pull-ups. Do your abdo session on the grass, and your workout is done in 30 minutes flat! Need help to train outdoors? Search the internet to find thousands of exercises using just your body weight, or ask a personal trainer to supervise you on your own or with friends.

“My holidays are sacred, for rest and relaxation!” Your holiday could be your opportunity to adopt a healthy lifestyle because you rest and relax better after a day of activity than after a day on a sun lounger! You’ll sleep better, oxygenate your body and brain, tone your muscles and feel filled with positive energy. Choose holidays that include activities geared towards health & fitness: walking, canoeing or biking in the mountains; swimming, kayaking, paddle board (a new sport where you stand on a surfboard and paddle across the water), windsurfing, waterskiing or kitesurfing at the sea or lake. If you really can’t give up your all-inclusive village holiday, choose one that offers sports. And do them!

By making changes during the four wonderful months of summer, they’ll become health & fitness habits by October, and the physical and mental benefits will be enormous!

Monica SchettinoWellbeing Manager, Aspria, Arts-Loi