A Summer Salute to Health & Fitness

The arrival of summer brings plans for vacations, picnics, and summertime fun.  While summer can provide opportunities for more and varied physical activities like beach volleyball, swimming and tennis, it can   present some health and fitness   challenges as well.

First, while we usually associate summer with “fun in the sun”, our often rainy Spring followed by high heat index, air polluted scorches, reminds us that it isn’t always fun, safe, or pleasant to be outdoors.  Exercise early in the day to beat the heat and be sure to check out our articles on water, water exercise, and skin cancer prevention.  If you have a gym membership and/or home equipment/exercise videos, you already have “plan B” built in.  If you are traveling and bad weather has you trapped inside with no gym, you can walk the halls and climb the hotel stairs, or use a downloadable workout.  Resistance bands are a great alternative to free weights and fit easily into a carry-on bag.  And crunches, push-ups (or wall pushes), and squats can be done in the tiniest space in minimal time.  Follow these with long, slow stretches which relax the muscles, especially when synchronized with the breath – a great way to unwind and let go of travel tension, too.

But health saboteurs can be right in your own back yard, too!  For example, cookouts and picnics featuring the usual fare of ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, mayonnaise-laden salads, chips, cakes and sodas can add up to hundreds of     additional calories, fat grams, salt and sugar.  So, if you are hostessing, offer BBQ chicken or Tofu instead of BBQ ribs, veggie burgers instead of hamburgers, soy dogs in place of hot dogs, mustard dressed pasta/potato salads and/or garden salad; raw veggie crudite´ rather than chips adds lots of nutrients and saves hundreds of calories, fat grams and sodium, too. Fresh fruit parfait with mixed fruit and yogurt instead of cake, (see recipe section) refreshing herbal ice tea instead of sodas.  If you are an invited guest, bring a healthy alternative to share.  Roasted vegetables and/or fruit and veggie kabobs are a delicious addition to any cookout or picnic.

With common sense and creativity, summer can leave you with a lighter, happier heart.