Living in the Pacific Northwest, we experience true weather seasons throughout the year. Each season has their own pros and cons. Summertime is a beautiful time to be in the PNW and is my favorite season. Just thinking about summer makes my nostrils flare with the anticipation of BBQ in the air. However, not everyone loves the sun and heat of summer. The heat can be overwhelming at times and can make it hard to get outside and exercise, leading to many days in the air-conditioned house living a sedentary lifestyle. Sound familiar? Here are five tips to help you stay healthy and active as you beat the heat this upcoming summer!
Get your steps in – Go for a morning walk or run. Exercise is a great way to start your day and you’ll avoid the heat by doing early. Enjoy walking but not a morning person? Go to your local mall or a department store. They are generally air-conditioned and large enough that you won’t feel awkward walking the same loop a couple of times.
How many steps should you try to reach? The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends reaching 11,000 to 14,000 steps a day. Does that seem unattainable for you or your child? Start with a smaller goal that you feel is achievable and use that as your baseline. Increase that number by 250 steps each week until you reach the recommended daily steps. This may take months to reach and that’s ok! The most important thing is developing the habit of moving your body!
Trust your heart - It is important to keep an eye on your heart rate as you exercise. The increased heat will be driving your heart rate up without exercise, so make sure that you are not pushing yourself to overexertion. It can also let you know if you could be working a little harder to reach your desired goals. Wondering what your target heart rate should be? Visit www.heart.org and type in “Target Heart Rate” for more information.
Many of our clients have a difficult time understanding their body and self-regulating. It can be tricky as a trainer, or a parent, to know if your child is moving enough to increase their heart rate to the desired level. Heart rate monitors solve this dilemma. Not only is it a great visual and tool for you as the parent, but understanding the target number and seeing their heart rate in real time can also serve as a great motivator for the child.
Hydrate – It is important to drink water year-round, but especially as it begins to heat up. Your body will be naturally displacing your fluids trying to cool your body off, so make sure to drink extra water if you are spending time outside. The ideal amount of water that you should be drinking will vary based on your body and activity level, so your best indicator is your urine. If you’re not peeing clear, drink more water!
Fuel up – Do you have a long day of activities planned? Make sure to fuel your body appropriately to sustain your energy level. You should be eating protein with every meal accompanied by a good amount of vegetables. Always carry snacks with you to prevent becoming hangry and turning into the Hulk. Nuts are a good quick snack that are packed with energy. Allergic to nuts? Try a protein bar of your choice.
Monitor – Invest in smart technology that will help you stay on track. There are several great products out there that will help you monitor all the above. They all have different ways for you to stay motivated and consistent.
For heart rate and step tracking, Fitbit has a ton of products that are high quality with different options for your needs. They have simple trackers that look like a bracelet (less invasive) to watches (our favorite for learning to tell time). The Fitbit app will also sync with another app that I recommend using to track your daily calorie intake, MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is a free app that does a great job of helping you track your daily nutrition, hydration, and is very customizable based on your own fitness goals. It can scan bar codes, which allows you to input your meals with ease with accuracy.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CSPS is the founder and head trainer of Specialty Athletic Training and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Special Populations Specialist. He is a member of the board of directors for the Autism Society of America and the Central Oregon Disability Support Network.