Getting Ready for Summer
Summer is here! Fun in the sun. barbecues, fireworks, and cool drinks, outdoor activities - hiking, biking, running, swimming, skating, rollerblading, and canoeing.
Getting back into shape seems like a very good idea right about now. Not only do we want to look good in our shorts and t-shirts, but we don't want to be huffing and puffing while we are enjoying our summertime activities. We want to be able to do what we want to do without having to think about any limitations or restrictions.
How do you return to fitness? There are three main areas on which to focus:
1) losing weight
2) aerobic exercise, and
Whether you want to lose five, ten, or twenty pounds, the easy-to-follow principles are the same. First, eat several (five or six) small meals each day. Each small meal should contain about 300 calories and your total daily intake should be between 1800 and 1900 calories. This might be a significant reduction for many people, so be sure to check with your doctor and get his or her approval to begin such a plan.
Each small meal should contain both protein and carbohydrates. This food-combining principle retrains your body's metabolism and helps you become a "mean, lean machine." Food combining optimizes energy utilization and evens out insulin levels throughout the day. This is particularly important for people who are hypoglycemic or pre-diabetic. Again, check with you doctor to be sure such a plan will work well for you.
Returning to aerobic fitness is very important for summer activities, so get out of your house and begin a walking program. Start with ten or fifteen minutes of easy walking and add a minute each day, building up to thirty-minute walks over the course of three or four weeks. When you can walk for thirty minutes easily, increase your pace gradually over several weeks. Treadmills, stationary bikes, stair machines, and elliptical machines all provide excellent aerobic workouts. The key, as with walking, is to build up gradually to a high level. Interval training methods involve alternating intense and slow periods of activity and are also valuable for improving cardiovascular efficiency.
Weight-training tones muscles, trains your body to do physical work, and causes your metabolism to burn fat while you're resting, so there are a wide variety of benefits. Many excellent books and magazines are available to help you begin a weight-training program. Workout with a knowledgeable friend or hire a personal trainer for four weeks and learn enough to be able to workout on your own. The physical and psychological benefits are well worth the time and effort.
Remember to stay hydrated all day long, too, as drinking water is the most important element of getting fit and well-prepared to enjoy all that summer has to offer.
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Knuttgen HG. Strength training and aerobic exercise: comparison and contrast. J Strength Cond Res 21(3):973-978, 2007
Kraemer WJ, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 34(2):364-380, 2002