by Jessica Von Duerring, Senior Copywriter, Certified Pilates Instructor & Barre Conditioning-Certified
Spans of oppressive heat and biting bugs can sometimes make spending summer outdoors an unpleasant undertaking. In June and July, many of us were compelled to remain indoors, grateful to find any place equipped with air-conditioning. Now, suddenly it’s August, and hopefully we’ll be getting some relief from the worst of summer’s wrath – with plenty of time still left to still enjoy the outdoors. There is no shortage of healthy activities that can be packed into the last few weeks of summer to help make up for lost time! Here are some ideas:
1. Up the intensity. Don’t just go for a leisurely jog on your usual neighborhood circuit; quicken your pace and feel the burn. If faster doesn’t seem possible, then add 10 minutes to your usual workout. Walking, jogging, hiking, inline skating and cycling are all great activities in which you can up the intensity.
2. Get out and explore. Discover park trails and open roads and take in some new scenery.
3. Hit up the water. If you live near the beach, get out and play volleyball, throw the Frisbee or football around, beachcomb, or play an energetic game of fetch with your dog. If you're near a lake, try rowing for an unrivaled total-body workout and a change of pace. Late summer is a great time to do beach and water activities because these areas tend to be less crowded.
4. Think outside the box. Always wanted to stand-up paddleboard, take a whirl on a skateboard or ballroom dance? Ask any schoolchild – the beginning of the school year is a great time to try something new. Plus, you’ll likely discover muscles you didn’t you know had and you’ll see a new level of tone in your body.
5. Integrate exercise into your life. In addition to the obvious suggestions – like parking your car farther away from your destination and taking the stairs instead of elevators – here are a few that are less obvious: While at the kids’ soccer practice, instead of reading a book or visiting with another parent, why not walk around the outside of the field while they practice, or even warm up and cool down with the team? Schedule a ‘walking meeting’ instead of an in-office discussion. Swap the cart for your legs when golfing. You can also transform your commute by walking or biking to work, or taking a bus and hopping off a few stops early.
6. Playgrounds aren’t just for kids. Adults can rekindle their inner child and enjoy these outdoor play spaces, too – and get a great, affordable workout at the same time. Slides can be used for challenging push-ups or sit-ups, monkey bars can be used for pull-ups, and holding yourself stationary on a swing in plank position can provide an incredible core workout.
7. Plant a late-summer garden. If you’re looking to spice up your lawn or garden, August is a perfect time to plan a fall harvest. You can also keep your garden ablaze with color through the end of summer with a mix of fall-blooming annuals and perennials. The simple fact is that gardening is exercise, and done properly, can burn as many calories as more traditional exercises.
8. Farm your way fit. Find a local farm and volunteer to spend a day or more learning about farming, harvesting, picking and general farming chores. In return, you usually get fed locally produced, healthy meals!
9. Schedule breaks. I personally believe that an hour of sitting is too long, so make time to get up and stretch. Take a lap around the office or outside parking lot after each hour of sitting and stand while talking to a coworker. Use part of your lunch break to go for a stroll or pick up lunch at a place within walking distance. Just can’t get away? Take a call on your mobile phone and head outdoors – they’re called mobile phones for a reason!
10. Practice yoga, Pilates or meditation outdoors. Put the tree back in tree pose and swap the mat for grass. The only thing more peaceful than a mind-body session is spending time in the beauty of nature.
As summer fades, we tend to return to a more sedentary routine. Challenge yourself to not let your fitness level fall with the end of summer.