Healthy Workout Habits for Summer
5 Healthy Habits to Boost Your Summer Workouts
Summer might be the perfect time to get in shape, but there are a few things you need to remember if you’re going to have a successful summertime workout. Exercising is only as good as you make it. Pushing your body to the limit is not always the best route, and taking care of yourself, especially if you exercise outside during the hot summer afternoons, is essential to staying healthy.
Here are five healthy habits that will boost your workout routine this summer.
1. Be Consistent
No workout will be effective unless you do it consistently, and your body will respond best if you give it a routine. Schedule your workout times. Find a time of day that works best for you and stick to it.
It’s ok (and good, in fact) to have multiple workout regimens. If all you do is run for an hour or two every morning, you’ll be working the same muscles and joints day after day. Instead of sticking to one workout, create a week-long program that becomes routine.
If you are a runner, for example, schedule longer runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, hit the gym for some cross-training.
It is too strenuous for your body to work out intensely one day only to skip the gym for the next week. A consistent workout will reduce your stress levels and regulate the endorphins that stabilize your mood. An exercise routine will also allow your muscles to adjust to and grow with the strain for optimal results.
2. Listen to Your Body
Your body communicates its needs every day. Hunger, thirst, fatigue, and even pain are all signals telling you what you need to do to take care of yourself. If you learn to listen to your body, you will reduce chance of injury and illness.
Learn to identify good pain and bad pain. If you quit running or lifting weights every time your muscles start to protest, you won’t improve. But if you push through “bad pain,” you run the risk of damaging your muscles or ligaments.
Your body will communicate other important information. If you are overly fatigued, don’t be afraid to take a day off. If you’re thirsty, your body is telling you that it’s already dehydrated.
Every body works differently, so don’t compare your routines to others’—focus instead on how your body works best. Know and work within your limitations.
3. Snack Well
Everyone knows that a good diet is essential to a successful exercise program. But instead of focusing on what power foods to eat and how to stick to a diet, it might be more helpful to focus on how you’re snacking instead. Most people can remember to eat three balanced meals every day, but it’s all of the “in between” eating that ruins people’s healthy habits.
If you like to eat five smaller meals a day instead of the traditional three, you’ve probably already kicked your snacking habits. If you’re like the majority of the population, however, you eat three larger meals a day and little snacks in between.
So, what are you snacking on? You know the drill: avoid processed sugars, straight carbs, and other snacks you know are unhealthy, especially right before a workout. Instead, try some of these snacks for some long-lasting energy.
- Bananas or other fruit
- Fruit smoothies
- Energy bars
- Carrot sticks or other vegetables
Your snacks don’t have to be boring, but keep them fresh, natural, and healthy; take advantage of summer fruits and fresh garden vegetables while they last. Indulge in a sugary treat on the weekends, but don’t make it a part of your daily diet.
Almost 2/3 of our bodies are made of water. Every time you exercise (especially out in the summer heat), you lose some of that water. Even if you’re exercising in the early morning or cool evening hours (recommended to keep your body temperature down and hydration levels up), your body will need plenty of water to function properly.
Experts agree on one thing when it comes to how much water adults should drink: that Americans don’t drink enough. Here is one basic rule of thumb:
- Drink half your weight in ounces daily (ex: a 150lb person would drink 75oz)
For intense workouts or long-distance runs, drink fluids with added electrolytes. Bring a water bottle with you to the gym, and make sure you drink before, during, and after your workout.
After a strenuous workout, it’s important to give your body time to recover. If you don’t rest, you will be more susceptible to soreness, trouble sleeping, and a decrease in performance. Rest needs to be part of your daily routine as well as part of your exercise plan—build in one rest day per week, and take time to recover after every workout.
After a workout, cool down with a low-intensity activity.
Here are a few ways to get your body ready for tomorrow’s workout:
- Get a good night’s sleep. Skimping on sleep will increase your stress levels, drain your energy, and keep your muscles wound tight.
- Ask a loved one to give you a massage. Or, if it’s in the budget, schedule periodic appointments with a massage therapist for a full-body treatment.
- Spend time in a sauna, steam room, or hot tub. Heat will relax your muscles and increase flexibility and blood circulation.
- Again, make sure you stretch well after every workout to reduce soreness, cramping, and potential injury.
- If you have specific health concerns or are pregnant, be sure to consult with your doctor about health guidelines for hot tubbing.
Whether you’re a runner or a gym enthusiast, take care of yourself this summer. Keep your exercise routine healthy and safe while you take advantage of the beautiful weather, and most importantly, enjoy yourself!