How to stay active this summer
As summer approaches, many of us will be enjoying our favourite summer pastimes, such as hitting up the beach, going camping or heading to the cottage.
There are tons of ways to enjoy this season while staying active – in fact, a lot of the summer activities you already love to do are probably great ways to rack up some FitPoints: Gardening? Swimming? Fishing? Beach walks with the dog? It all counts!
Here are some more ideas for things you can do this summer to stay active.
For outdoor enthusiast Brian Conghalie, founder of myopencountry.com, this season means one thing: dry weather hiking.
“Hiking doesn’t have to be strenuous or heavy-duty,” he says. “Most people’s conception of ‘hiking’ conjures up images of trekking in mountains and wilderness, fighting off wild animals and battling the elements! But any coastal, forest or countryside walk can also be classed as hiking, the common ingredient being a walk among undeveloped nature.”
Conghalie adds that the benefits of hiking are both physical and mental.
“You are exerting yourself more than usual. Any kind of walking is an excellent aerobic and cardiovascular exercise; a hike just exercises you a little bit more depending on the terrain and duration,” he says. “And mentally, being outdoors in a natural environment is a proven tonic to your general sense of well-being, relieving stress and calming your mind.”
To keep moving this summer, Elliot Reimers, a NASM-certified nutrition coach and fitness expert at Rave Reviews, suggests going for a run on the beach or sandy embankments.
“Enjoy the sunset and sunrise by running on the beach. It’s an intense workout because … running on soft sand is harder and requires more energy than running on hard pavement. But because the surface is softer, beach jogging is safer and easier on your knees and joints.”
Outdoor family fun
If you’ve got kids, you might want to take a leaf out of Alice Anderson’s book and plan a camping trip.
The founder of Mommy To Mom says she and her husband love to stay active while on vacation and often take their two kids to family campgrounds over the summer.
“We usually take the kids for a bike ride after breakfast each morning, since it’s pretty quiet around that time and the roads are clear,” she says. “After that, we all hike to the pond to go fishing. We come back for lunch and then go swimming or to the playground and have fun with different activities. We love the outdoors!”
Joni Gonzales, founder of Life Unflaked, likes to go kayaking near her home in South Central Pennsylvania.
“In summer, we take kayaks out on Lake Marburg in Codorus State Park for some solid exercise that’s also fun,” says Gonzales, who, along with her husband, reached goal on WW several years ago. “Not only do we get some cardio and upper strength training in on the lake, but just putting the kayaks back on the car to go home is a workout in itself!”
Do the activities you want to do
Marvin Nixon, MS, NBC-HWC, a Toronto-based health coach and ACE-certified personal trainer, says our summer exercise can come from all sorts of activities that you won’t find at the gym.
“Summer is a great time to take stock of all of the activities that we may have had to put away for the winter,” he says. “The summer activities that you want to do count as exercise.”
Nixon shares some examples: “Go gardening and pull weeds for 10 minutes without [a] break, that is some tough exercise. Take a walk and talk with your friends and you are getting healthy movement and being social.”
You can also double up on family time and exercise by going for a bike ride or a swim with your family, he adds. And if you haven’t done your spring cleaning yet, you can count that as a workout, too.
“Head up and down a ladder while you clean those windows, that is a real life stair stepper,” he says.
Connecticut-based licensed marriage and family therapist Katie Ziskind suggests heading to the beach or lake for both the physical and mental health benefits.
“Going to the beach is a great summer activity because you can soak up vitamin D and improve mild depression,” she says. “As the sun warms your skin, you may feel calmer and more rejuvenated mentally. As well, when going to the beach, you can get in impact-free exercise through swimming.”
Swimming can relieve pressure on your spine, low back and knee joints,” she explains.
“Swimming is a great way to stay mobile and improve your flexibility while having fun in the sun.