Staying in shape during the summer months can be hard, especially if you’re on vacation. (Because who doesn’t "cheat" a little on a diet during vacation, right?) But there are a lot of fun summer activities you can participate in that have all the benefits of traditional exercise without feeling like exercise at all. As long as you’re smart, you can have fun in the sun while avoiding common summer injuries.
Jump In: Staying in shape is a lot easier in water. The water’s buoyancy makes exercises like water aerobics easier on joints, and you can use something as simple (and as inexpensive) as a beach ball to add a little oomph to your workout. Besides: what list of outdoor summer activities DOESN’T include swimming? Swimming is perfect for staying in shape during the summer because it works every muscle in your body. If you’re not much of a swimmer, you can try "water jogging," which gives you the benefits of jogging with less impact on your knees, hips and ankles.
Hit the Beach: Even if you’re not a water person, a day at the beach is a must for fun summer activities. Walking or jogging on sand adds resistance, which allows for a better workout. Not a runner? Try grabbing some friends for a game of Frisbee: it has all the benefits of aerobic exercise, but you’ll be too busy having fun to notice. Just make sure that you liberally apply sunscreen throughout the day to avoid the worst of all summer injuries – sunburn. And stay hydrated! Nothing ruins outdoor summer activities like a trip to the ER.
Pedal On: Looking for ideas for fun summer activities the whole family can enjoy? Bike rides are the way to go. If you’re new to working out, pick a place that’s closer to your home, or find a park with bike trails, so that you don’t overextend yourself. A number of summer injuries come from people who give themselves too difficult of a ride, ending in muscle strains, muscle fatigue and dehydration. If you have kids, make sure that you have regulation-sized helmets for you and your children, and that little ones are strapped in correctly to a carrier seat.
Keep Climbing: There are ways of staying in shape AND feeding your brain, and a nature hike is one of them. Try contacting your local, county or state park to see what kinds of fun summer activities they have. Many offer nature hikes that range in difficulty, as well as summer-only programs for kids and adults alike. You can save some money by packing your own picnic lunch (and plenty of water), and many places have only small entrances fees, if they have any at all. They may even supply a map or "scavenger" list for particular plants and wildlife indigenous to the area, so you’ll learn something while you’re there. This can also help you avoid poisonous plants (like ivy and sumac). Make sure to wear appropriate clothing, to avoid bugs like lice that feed in the summer. Injuries can also occur with the wrong footwear, so make sure you’re wearing shoes that can handle hills or uneven terrain.
Stay Safe during Fun Summer Activities
Staying in shape this summer doesn’t have to be a drag – not when there are so many things you can do outside! It’s imperative, though, that you remain vigilant when it comes to your health. Certain precautions should be taken to avoid getting hurt or sick.
• Stay Hydrated: This can help you avoid muscle fatigue, unwanted strain on your joints, and damage to your internal organs.
• Wear the Right Clothing: Jogging in a sweat suit in the dead of summer is a silly idea at best, and a potentially fatal one at worst. Make sure your clothing is light-weight, and that it covers your skin completely if you’re exposed to too much sunlight. Dress according to whatever outdoor summer activities you have planned for the day.
• Use Sunscreen: No tan is worth cancer.
• Pace yourself: Don’t take on too much if you’re not accustomed to a lot of strenuous exercise. Getting and staying in shape during the summer time can be fun, but you’ll risk sunstroke, dehydration and muscle strain if you take on too much at once.
Remember to have fun! Summer activities like water sports and beach volleyball should be enjoyed. So as long as you’re careful, there’s no reason why you can’t avoid the most common summer injuries while having the time of your life.