Proven Strategies for Staying Fit this Summer
Summer’s almost here. That means it’s the time for outdoor activities! This is the season where people typically find it easier to get moving and get in shape, but along with those high goals come some necessary precautions. Here are some easy tips to keep you in top form — from working out safely, to proper nutrition, to staying motivated.
In the summertime, people enjoy many activities including walking, swimming, running, hiking, and team sports. But playing too hard and too long in the sun can lead to the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is characterized by immense sweating, nausea, muscle cramps, headache, or cool, moist skin with goose bumps, even in the heat.
When that happens, immediately move the person to a cooler area and have them drink plenty of water. Exercise-related heat stroke is more severe. Symptoms can include moist skin, confusion, facial flushing and slurred speech. At that point, cool the person immediately by spraying them with a garden hose or apply cool towels, and seek medical assistance.
What you can do:
- Protect yourself: Apply sunscreen, and wear UV-protective glasses and clothing when exercising outdoors to decrease the risk of heat exhaustion or stroke.
- Limit your exposure: Time spent outdoors should be no more than 20-30 minutes on a sweltering day, depending on your fitness level and age. Children and older adults may be better off exercising indoors, especially if it’s the middle of the day.
- Time it right: Exercise should be done either early in the morning or later in the evening, when the risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, sunburns and excessive sun exposure to the eyes are minimized.
Warm weather can wreak havoc on your body, particularly your skin, muscles, and eyes. Sweat, saltwater, and chlorine all have drying effects on the skin, and muscle cramps can develop because of overexertion or dehydration. Age-related macular degeneration — a leading cause of vision loss in people over 55 — is related to excessive unprotected sun exposure.
A natural way to help combat these problems is with the tasty and nutritious bounty of foods that summertime offers.
What you can do:
- For muscle cramps: Potassium-rich foods like bananas, raisins, potatoes, and spinach help alleviate muscle cramps, as do certain sports drinks that contain sodium and calcium.
- For eye damage: Help protect your eyes by eating foods rich in lutein like eggs, or beta-carotene, zinc, and vitamins E and C, found in foods such as carrots, blueberries, bell peppers, kale, and chard.
- For sun-damaged skin: Help reverse the condition by eating avocados (for vitamin B5), meats, nuts, and fish (for zinc), beans (for folate) and yogurt (for calcium). Protein-rich lean meats and legumes are also great for skin. Be sure to get adequate hydration to help keep skin supple. Eight to 10 glasses of water a day is recommended.
Most people want to exercise to be fit, prevent disease and look good, but getting started can be the hardest part. Motivators or facilitators can get you going and keep you going on a consistent basis.
What you can do:
- Set visual cues: Keep your sneakers right next to your bed, TV or phone as a reminder, so you see them first thing when you wake up.
- Dress up: Invest in stylish workout clothes that make you feel good about yourself.
- Buddy up: Make a specific "workout date" with a friend or family member one or more times a week to keep you committed to your workout.
- Put it in writing: Research shows that we’re more likely to follow through with promises or commitments when we put it in writing to ourselves, or when we make them in front of friends.
For more articles or information about health and wellness, visit our health library. To find a primary care doctor, call 877-697-9355.