July 2022 Issue
Energy Express by Marilynn Preston
Summer is in full swing. Expect ever-rising temperatures, melting popsicles and a need to rethink and refresh your warm-weather workouts to prevent that killer of all dreams: boredom.
Boredom is to fitness what a bucket of water is to a flaming marshmallow. Here are three strategies to help you extinguish the possibility of exercise burnout this summer, when you, and most everyone you know, are in a sweat about so many things.
DIVE INTO WATER WORKOUTS.
The downside is that you need a pool. But the upside is so amazing for your overall health and well-being that it’s worth finding one. (Open water works, too.) Aquatic workouts are an increasingly popular training for all ages and shapes, gentle on the joints and remarkably effective for building strength, flexibility and endurance.
Water fitness used to conjure up images of silver-haired seniors holding on to their lime green foam noodles, gently kicking. Fast-forward.
As Shirley Archer reported in the IDEA Fitness Journal, aquatic exercise can be a butt-kicking workout that includes underwater bikes, treadmills and weights. More and more people—from elite competitive athletes to overweight arthritic lawyers—are diving into a wide array of water workouts that increase lean body mass, improve balance for core stability, lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes and so much more. We really should be reviving community pools all over America.
We’re seeing a welcome increase in aqua Zumba, aqua boxing and aqua Pilates. Aqua boot camps—high-intensity interval training in shallow and deep water—are also making a big splash.
If you’re not interested in joining a group, make up your own routine, with or without a buoyancy belt. Aim to stay in motion for 15-30 minutes or more—walking, dancing, or just moving in a way that feels good. Embrace the resistance of water, but never to the point of pain. You can use a waterproof music system, or discover the inner calm that comes from listening to the sound of your own breath.
EXERCISE YOUR COMPASSION.
This summer, check around and find an athletic event that raises money for some charity or cause you care about. If you don’t have a charity or cause that you care about, hmm.
Bike to beat breast cancer? Run to save the rivers? Walk to benefit a local school or a community garden?
Participating in a charity event connects you to your essential good nature and the gratitude you feel for what you have. That’s part of what makes it a boost to your well-being.
You might also choose an event to honor someone you love. A dear friend of mine is motivated every summer to run a 10k to honor his brother who died from leukemia many years ago. “It’s our time together,” Mitch told me. “It’s my way of keeping his memory alive.”
Start practicing philanthropic fitness this summer. It’s a win-win. You benefit from the training and the workouts, and the cause benefits from the cash.
Now, a New York City Marathon to fund Medicaid? Let’s hope it never comes to that.
EXPERIMENT WITH THE NIGHT.
Most people exercise during the day, and that makes perfect sense. But this summer, dare to be different and plan some of your workouts for the nighttime, when the weather’s cooler, the crowds have gone home and new challenges await you.
When you flip from day to night and wander out of your comfort zone, your brain engages with the workout in new and unfamiliar ways. It’s a good thing.
But be prepared. Think through all the issues involved when you walk, bike or even paddle at night. Be safe; be seen; be with other reliable people who share your sense of adventure.
I know of a neighborhood walking club—there are many—that goes out at night as a regular thing, between the hours of eight and 10 p.m. They’re exercising their right to be on their streets, enjoying their communities. Members walk as much or as little as they want. If they weren’t outside walking, they’d be inside on their devices. Being outside, talking and walking with living friends, feels so much better.
REFLECTIONS ON A WATERMELON
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been
the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
— Henry James—
Marilynn Preston—healthy lifestyle expert, well being coach and Emmy-winning producer—is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. Follow her at www.marilynnpreston.com.
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