Thursday, June 3, 2010

Movin' and Groovin' with the Vibe of the Summer Season


Summer is an energetic time of year. With day longer than night, we are at the year's zenith of activity. It would be a shame to piddle away this exuberant energy going through the motions at the gym. If ever there was a time to think outside the box when it comes to fitness, this is it. There's such a wide variety of exercise options during the summer. See if you can invite a spirit of play into your training sessions this season.

Think back to the carefree days of summer when you were a kid. Remember the excitement you felt when that final school bell rang announcing the start of summer break? Recall that sense of childhood enthusiasm. Growing up doesn't mean getting old. Breathe some of that youthful energy back into your heart and just play. Relax around your workouts and kick up your heels a bit. It's a great way to switch things up and experience movement in a new way.

Fun in the Sun Fitness:

  • Run through the sprinklers with your kids.
  • Play Marco Polo at the local community swimming pool.
  • Have a good old fashioned water balloon fight.
  • Head out to the park. Fly high on the swings. Monkey around on the monkey bars. Play tag with a group of friends. Let yourself be silly and free. Play as if no one is watching just like you did back in the day.
  • Catch a bitchin' wave on your boogie board.
  • Go rollerskating down the boardwalk.
  • Hit a music festival and shake that groove thang. Dancing is fun and a great way to work that body. Having live music involved is the cherry on the sundae.
  • Take the family to a water park for a day of frolicking.
Of course, there are also plenty of summer activities for the weekend warriors to enjoy. Spike these activities with a little playfulness. Drink in the spirited energy of the season. We all benefit from letting our hair down a bit. Pack a gourmet picnic to tote along on your hike. When you reach the summit celebrate your bird's eye view with a fabulous feast. Gather a group together for a kayaking trip down the river. Meet downstream on the shore for a luau party. Finish up that intense bike ride at the movie theater downtown. You can park your wheels while cooling off in the air conditioning as you take in one of the summer blockbusters.

Group sports are another great way to invite more play into your training. Connect with your buddies for a friendly game of tag football. Hit the beach for a round of volleyball. With all the laughter and good times you'll be sharing with friends you'll forget that you're working out. Let fun be your mantra when it comes to fitness this summer season. Your body and spirit will thank you.

Summer Training Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • Biking
  • Surfing
  • Water Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Trail running
  • Jogging
  • Walking at the beach. The sand provides great muscle strengthening resistance. Consider throwing in some intervals by running up the sand dunes. You'll get an amazing training session in nature's gym.
  • Kayaking
  • Water running. Many community pools offer lanes for this purpose. The water provides resistance that makes this a very effective low-impact form of exercise. It's also a great way to get that intensity while beating the heat.
  • Water polo
Another thing to consider are the many charitable walks, runs, and triathlons that are hosted in the summer. These events provide a wonderful opportunity to get out there and move your body while giving back to a worthy cause. Approaching training as a way to pay it forward provides a hefty return in yummy feel-good vibes. If you are inspired, investigate which causes have events slated for the summer and pick one to participate in that is personally meaningful to you.

On a final note, make sure to keep yourself well-hydrated this summer season. Between the period of 1979-2003 excessive heat exposure contributed to the death of 8,015 Americans. There are certain risk factors to be aware of in order to keep yourself safe this season while you're out galavanting.

Preventing Heat Stroke:

  • Infants, children, the elderly (age 65 and older), and those with chronic medical conditions are more susceptible to heat stress. Extra precautions should be taken in these cases.
  • Air conditioning provides the number one source of protection from heat stroke. Make sure to break up time spent in the elements with cool down periods indoors. Malls, libraries, movie theaters, and other public venues offer a place to cool off and recover from the heat.
  • Be aware of your local weather. Both the weather channel and public health center in your area can keep you informed of heat waves and the safety measures you need to take to ensure your protection.
  • Stay well-hydrated. Bump up those fluids, especially when training outdoors. Physical activity makes your fluid needs go up. Also, be mindful that caffeine and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating. Double up on your water intake for every glass of dehydrating beverages you consume. If you are exercising on a hot day, a good rule of thumb is to consume 2-4 glasses of cool water each hour to prevent heat exhaustion.
  • Be sure to replace salt and minerals lost through sweating. A sports drink, or Emergen-C can help with this. However, if you are watching your salt intake because of a medical condition be sure to consult your physician before consuming these beverages. 
  • Wear lightweight, breathable clothing and don't forget to slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Make sure to reapply sunscreen regularly according to package directions and don't skimp when it comes to application. For reference, it takes about a shot glass full of sunscreen to properly protect the body from harmful rays. I personally recommend a chemical-free mineral based sunscreen for complete protection. If you will be outdoors for a long period of time, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat. 
  • Think of scheduling your outdoor training for the morning or early evening hours when the sun's rays are a bit more forgiving. Scope out shady areas ahead of time so you can dip in for a rest should you begin to feel over-heated.
  • Slow your roll! Back off on your usual intensity of training on sweltering days. It's advisable to take the pace a little easier during heat waves.
  • Consider training with a friend. It's good to have someone on hand should an emergency arise.
The Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher.
  • Overheated body with an absence of sweat. Sweat is the body's cooling system. A lack of perspiration is cause for concern.
  • Disorientation/confusion
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Pounding headache
  • Strong, rapid pulse
  • Unconsciousness
In Case of Heat-Stroke Emergency:

  • Call 911. Make sure medical assistance is on the way.
  • Get yourself or the victim to a shady area immediately.
  • The main objective is rapid cooling. This can be achieved in a number of ways. Submerge in a cool tub. Cool down with a water hose or spray bottle. If caring for another who is overheated,  you can sponge them down with cool water, or wrap them in a soaked sheet while you fan them, as long as it is not humid.
  • Keep an eye on body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temp drops between 101-102 degrees F.
  • If medical personnel are delayed call the emergency room for further instruction.
  • DO NOT GIVE THE VICTIM ANYTHING TO DRINK. This may seem counter-intuitive but it can actually medically complicate a crisis situation and is contraindicated.
  • If the victim begins to have involuntary muscle twitching make sure that they have a clear area so they don't injure themselves on any nearby objects. If the victim vomits, turn them over onto to their side to keep their airway open.
Heat exhaustion is a more mild form of heat-related illness and is not an emergency situation. Although, it is important to monitor this condition so it doesn't progress to heat stroke. An individual with heat exhaustion may be pale, tired, weak, and dizzy which can lead to fainting. They may also have a headache and muscle cramps. It is possible that nausea and vomiting could be present. The crucial difference between heat exhaustion and the more serious heat stroke is that the individual with heat exhaustion will be sweating heavily. There will also be an absence of confusion and disorientation. However, it is important to seek medical assistance if the individual suffers from high blood pressure, has a heart condition, or if symptoms seem severe. Trust your gut. If you feel that medical help is needed, you are most likely correct. Don't question that judgment. Simply act.

In Case of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Rehydrate with cool, caffeine-free, non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Lower body temp with a cool bath or shower.
  • Rest and recuperate.
  • Find an air-conditioned environment.
  • Change into light, breathable clothing.

With a little common sense and preparedness, you can have a safe, fun summer season.


  1. Wonderful and Lifesaving advice, Shannon !

    The only sub-section I would like to add, (especially because I work in the Health care field is the following):

    When Running Errands or Grocery shopping:

    If possible, try to plan to do your walking or running around early in the morning before the weather heats up. Therefore, by planning ahead you will have an orderly route and get all your errands finished before noon, when the sun really gets to work.

    If getting out early is not possible I would advise waiting until later in the afternoon (4pm or thereafter, on the west coast), when the temperature begins to drop.

    Thanks again for your help.
    Andria :)

  2. Great additional information Andria. Thanks for posting this safety tip. It is my hope for all of us to have a fun and safe summer. Enjoy!