Shape Up For Summer
If you’re anything like me, as soon as the warmer weather arrives, I find it hard to motivate myself to go to the gym and I just want to be outside in the fresh air, writes Tracy Hargreaves
On top of that the urge to chill in the back garden with a glass of rosé and endless invitations to barbecues probably doesn’t help either.
But there are some simple ways to keep yourself in shape over the summer months whilst keeping the pounds off.
Do more of what you enjoy. Gardening is great exercise and what’s more you will reap the benefits of having a beautiful outdoor living space that you can enjoy all year round. You’ll be surprised that just the simplest of jobs can involve a range of resistance and stretching exercises. Turning the compost heap, planting trees, mowing the lawn, weeding and sowing seeds are all energetic tasks that will use a range of muscles, so think next time you are out in your garden how much energy you are actually burning off. As with any exercise, make sure you do some stretches after your gardening, so you don’t suffer with aching muscles a couple of days after.
Take your cardio outside. Walking is also the best way to see different things. Get yourself a tracker and aim to do at least 10,000 steps a day. If you don’t want to walk on your own, get a walking buddy, a friend, or neighbour. Or join one of the many walking groups, it’s a great way to meet new people and research has shown that if you exercise with someone else it’s more likely to motivate you to do it. Go for a walk at work at lunchtime and then take the family out for an evening stroll. Just walking around your local area, you’ll be surprised at what you find and didn’t realise was on your doorstep that you don’t see when you’re driving. A brisk long walk also offers lots of health benefits too. It can not only lower your blood pressure, it can strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mood and prevent various conditions including heart disease.
Get on your bike. If you don’t have your own there are plenty of places where you can hire ones. Take to the front at Blackpool. It’s a great way to see the sights and is relatively flat too if you don’t like your hills. Visit your local park, go a bit off road, or cycle the Guild Wheel in Preston, a 21-mile cycle path that circles around the city. Not only will you get your heart racing, you will be releasing endorphins, which make us feel good.
If you’re a regular to yoga but don’t fancy stretching out in a hot and sweaty room, why not try beach yoga. You can relax to the sound of the sea, as well as taking in the beautiful sunsets we have on our coastline, making it a truly memorable experience.
Turn the outdoors into a gym. Use a park bench to work your chest and shoulders. Do a couple of sets of 10 push ups, then turn round and use for a tricep dip. Using the bench again, keep your right foot on the bench and step up and down with your left foot and repeat with the right foot to complete the set. Repeat 20 times. This is great for the glutes and quads. Find a small hill and sprint to the top for 30 seconds with 20 seconds rest. Do this five times.
Hold onto a large tree trunk and pull your legs up to your stomach to target the core area. A 20-minute workout outside will have you bursting with energy.
As well as keeping fit, it’s also important to eat well. Go for grilled chicken and fish with plenty of fresh, locally grown salad. Make them more adventurous by adding in chick peas, chillies, lemongrass, noodles and sweet chilli sauce and your salads won’t be boring any more. Take advantage of the abundance of seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Buy fat free Greek yoghurt but add in fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or cranberries. These are all packed with antioxidants and are great for a dessert. You can even add them to a sugar free jelly. If you get the opportunity there are several pick your own farms in Lancashire, where you can stock up on fresh, locally grown produce and freeze them so you can always have great tasting fruit and vegetables at your fingertips.
Embrace the summer and make the most out of it. You’ll certainly feel a lot healthier for doing so.