Step outside for summer fitness

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Summer is here and it is time to ditch the treadmill and head outside for some fun workouts that feel more like play than training. A 2011 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that people who walked on a track outside moved at a faster pace, perceived less exertion and experienced more positive emotions than those who walked inside.

Child’s Play
Do you remember being a child? Hopping on your bike after breakfast and not coming home until dinner? What is to stop you from doing that again? Summer is a great time to act like a kid and do things that get you moving while having fun. Get back on that bike, hop on a skateboard or take up water skiing. Summer sports are fantastic because they get us outside and encourage us to move in ways that we normally don’t. Skateboarding, for example, is excellent for the lower body and builds core strength. By introducing new movement patterns we challenge our bodies to adapt and get stronger, while increasing mobility and stability. Run, jump and play away the summer days by trying new activities or returning to an old favorite that makes you feel young again. 

Lighten Up
Being outside definitely improves the mood and outlook on life. MRI scans reveal that when people are shown images of landscapes the area of the brain associated with happy memories lights up. Keep that happy feeling all summer by ensuring that dress is appropriate: choose breathable fabrics that are light in weight and colour; black absorbs light and heat, which can lead to feeling uncomfortable. Hot days require extra attention – invest in a light hat and find a sunscreen that is sweat-resistant. Hydration is key, so keep plenty of water on hand when playing at your favorite activity. Afterwards, why not relax with a glass of icy water infused with fruits, veg and herbs such as lemon, cucumber, basil and mint to replace lost fluids.

Exercise Toys
When looking for inspiration, try observing children at play; participate in a local roller parade or head to the beach and join in the fun. After that delicious barbecue, get everyone moving with a game of frisbee, catch or soccer. Try taking a few pieces of functional training equipment outside for a workout. Resistance bands for instance are compact, lightweight and can be used anywhere. Medicine balls and dumbbells are more difficult to travel with, but provide endless possibilities for fun sessions outside the gym.

Keep it simple
Time away from the stresses of everyday life, whether a few days or a few weeks, is very important for recharge energy. Leaving routines behind and focusing on relaxing is imperative to maintaining a balanced lifestyle and sense of wellbeing. Approaching daily exercise from the perspective of play is a wonderful way to connect with family while on vacation. Simply choose activities that everyone can do and enjoy. Remember this basic guideline – get the body moving in a playful activity every day for 40-60 minutes. This allows the maintenance of current fitness levels while still allowing for a few summer treats.