Sun’s out, Guns Out – Getting Fit for Summer
The key to a healthy life is consistency. If you want the benefits, you have to do the work. In summer – or during our preparations for summer – the same rules apply. You have to keep moving and training despite distractions, excuses and so-called “better options”. Your body and your health should never take a backseat. But if winter has seen a lapse in your workout routine, or summer is enticing you to start a new regime, there’s no better time to start than today! So join us as we discuss how to you can get your guns – or beach booty – ready for this summer.
Summer is the perfect time to get outside and get active. There are dozens of activities to chose from if you don’t favour gym workouts, including swimming, cycling, running and dancing. Being outdoors is one of the best ways to get motivated and in tune with your body. It is a great time to try new fitness regimes like yoga or home circuit workouts. Mixing low impact workouts into your routine can give your joints a rest while keeping your muscles engage. In fact, with the higher heat we face in Australian summers (even in Melbourne!) it may be best to opt for less intense, high impact exercises.
Rolling out of bed to workout might induce groans, but as the days get warmer it is better to get your work out in early. Summer heat can make workouts difficult, if not dangerous, and you should avoid exercising outside between 10am and 2pm, which are considered the hottest parts of the day. If you hit the gym during these hours, make sure you stay hydrated and cool! Spring and Summer give us the chance to take advantage of longer days. Try to organise your workouts during the early morning or late in the evening. It has been found, however, that early morning workouts in Spring and Summer are more consistent as afternoons and evenings tend to become a time to socialise with family and friends. Starting a consistent schedule in the Autumn and Winter months, even Spring, is great to keep you on your toes in summer. It’s easier to start earlier if you make it a habit sooner!
Cardio and Strength Training
There is a temptation to throw ourselves into just one element of a workout. You might prefer jogging or walking over lifting weights, or vice versa. But having a good combination of both disciplines can help boost your fitness. Building lean muscles helps you burn fat faster. Building strength and endurance for cardio fitness can then improve your strength training – a neat circle of fitness improvements. But don’t let tight Summer deadlines make your irresponsible. Avoid the temptation to overdo things. Listen to your body and stop then you need to stop. Injuring yourself might put your summer fitness routine on hold.
Set a Goal!
Fitness is far easier to achieve when you set yourself a goal. Think about what you want to do this summer. Do you want to run a marathon? Go on a backpacking trip? Or just feel good in your own body? Whatever your goal is, it will help your workouts be more meaningful if you have a clear end goal. Remind yourself each day what you’re striving for, and do something to help get there – from adding another workout session to making smarter food choices. However, once you’ve reached your goal, avoid the temptation to treat summer like a 3-month vacation. It is hard to recover from that amount of down time and everything you’ve worked hard to accomplish will drop away. Instead, set yourself a new goal and keep the fitness train rolling.
Look Beyond the Scale
Getting in shape for summer isn’t just about losing weight – it’s about improving how you feel mentally and physically. So don’t hang all your expectations on a scale. Remember that plateaus are common. Set yourself small goals on the way to your larger goal. Aim to swim an extra lap each day or week. Aim to hike a steeper hill. By chasing your smaller goals, you gain the endurance and stamina to achieve your highest aim.
We are all very much aware of the dangers of sun exposure – especially skin cancer. However, in summer, staying out of the sun entirely might not be possible when exercising. And it’s definitely good to get your dose of Vitamin D. But you still have to protect yourself from the damage of the sun. Always wear sunscreen and a hat or visor when you exercise outside. Further, consider ventilated clothing with UPF, and avoid cotton. If UPF is too expensive, at least ensure your clothing is sweat wicking and choose lighter colours that will reflect the heat. If you go out walking, jogging or running, keep to areas that are shaded. As the days heat up, remember to slow down if you need it. Listen to your body and stop when it needs to stop. Fainting and sun stroke are definitely not badges of strength and could set your goals for a hot summer bod right back to the beginning.
Just like heat stroke and fainting, dehydration is not going to help you get beach body ready. The more dehydrated you get, the less you’ll be able to work out. It is important to drink a glass of water before you head out and try to drink every 20 minutes or so while exercising, where practical. Replenish at the end of your workout with another couple glasses of water.
Consistent but Flexible
It sounds like a contradiction but being consistent and flexible are both extremely important when it comes to creating a successful workout regime. You need to be consistent to overcome your excuses. Summers are short, and are times to be savoured, so don’t sour the occasion by not reaching your fitness goals. However, the key to consistency is also flexibility. Not everyone will enjoy working out the same way. And your schedule might mean that you can’t always go to the gym, or for a jog, at the same day or time as previous weeks. Find what works for you and fit it into your schedule. If you aim to workout three-four-five times a week, just aim for frequency but not specific days. By making your routine work for you, you’ll find it easier to workout and keep the habit. And don’t forget to add a weekly challenge when you feel like your motivation is lagging.
Keep a Food Journal
You have probably heard this so often that it’s become white noise, but keeping a food journal is an excellent way to reach your summer body goals. Writing down what you eat helps you keep track of your calorie intake and portion sizes. It will keep you honest about your eating and even identify foods that you need to cut out or times when you’re prone to snacking. By keeping these in mind, you can set yourself on a long term, healthy eating plan that will be far more successful than any diet.