As the spring and summer months begin, many of us start to realize how difficult it was to stay fit and active during the winter months. Now that the weather is getting nice, we have more of a spring in our step and are able to get more activity outdoors. Even if you are not able to go to a fitness center on a regular basis, there are many ways to stay fit and active. These simple recommendations can help you achieve your health and fitness goals no matter what they are.
1. Evening Walks
Many people do not realize the importance of simply moving your body. Taking a nice walk around the neighborhood is a great way to stay fit, decrease stress, increase blood sugar response, and aid in a healthy metabolism. Going for a walk after dinner may aid in healthy digestion, as well as boost metabolism. Walking has proven to help people de-stress, allowing you to focus on your physical and mental health. It is a great time to relax and take care of your body after a long day. The average American should aim for 10,000 steps a day. Start by tracking your steps with a pedometer, see how many steps you get on an average day, and set a goal to achieve for yourself.
Whether you are able to find an outdoor swimming pool or swim indoors, taking a dip in the pool is a great way to stay fit. Swimming is not a weight-bearing activity which makes it easier on the joints. This full-body workout is a great option for those who have trouble with weight-bearing activities, such as walking. There are many different exercises to do in the pool, such as: swimming laps, high-knees, paddle kicks, and light jogging.
3. Morning Stretches
Stretching our muscles is important in maintaining flexibility. There are many different kinds of stretches and difficult muscles to stretch – from stretching your neck to your calves, each muscle group is just as important as the other. When static stretching, it is important to hold the stretch for at least thirty seconds to allow the muscle to relax and oxygen to get to the muscle. Waking up in the morning and starting with a few basic stretches is a great way to wake up your body, improve flexibility, and stay fit.
4. Strength Training
Strength training may be one of the most beneficial components of exercising. Whether your goal is to maintain your current strength, increase lean muscle mass, or decrease fat mass, lifting weights and applying resistance on your body is fundamental to your health. Remember that you do not have to have a gym membership to be able to strength train. Using at-home three to five-pound weights or even canned goods to apply some weight may be just as beneficial as high-tech gym machines. Aim to strength train for 30 minutes about 2-3 times each week.
When talking about fitness it is important to remember that 70-80% of success comes from nutrition. What you are fueling your body with on a day-to-day basis is the key to long-term health and vitality. In a nutshell you should aim to avoid processed foods, increase lean proteins, limit refined carbohydrates, and increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Many of us know what to do when it comes to eating “better,” but how many of us actually follow through? Set weekly nutrition goals for yourself and see what you can achieve!
Health and fitness can be a difficult battle because you have to keep up with a routine and make it a part of your lifestyle to see the major benefits. These five recommendations may help you get closer to whatever health and fitness goal you have set for yourself. You will be surprised how little time it takes to feel a difference within your body with just a few small changes. Stay fit during the spring and summer months by making your health a priority and setting small behavior goals. I know you can do it!
Ashley Graven, RD, LD, CPT Life Time Fitness Registered & Licensed Dietitian/Weight Loss Coach Certified Personal Trainer