Looking at the calendar, the first day of spring is just around the corner to be celebrated on March 20th. It is a bit frightening to believe it’s time to start thinking about ditching the raincoats, sweaters and parkas and preparing for warmer (and more revealing) clothes. This date on the calendar is Mother Nature’s way of telling us it is time to focus on fitness, pump up the exercise and get back in the habit of cardio workouts.
Whether you want to drop a couple of pounds or get a bit leaner, warmer weather is a great time to focus on returning to a healthier lifestyle. And let’s face, when the weather is nice outside, we are all more motivated to exercise, or just get up and go and become more active. The couch and television seem to look a little less appealing when the sun is shining on a clear day.
Exercise – Choose Wisely
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) exercise helps “lowers your risk for many diseases, such as coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes and cancer. …Studies have shown the clear benefits of physical activity for your heart and lungs.”
Although some individuals are fitness fanatics, frequently people find exercise more of a chore than something to look forward to. The trick is to find an activity that keeps you motivated.
• Some people love the solitude of running along a trail or river
• Others stay motivated with structured Spinning classes or dance lessons for their cardio workout
• A regular team sport like a softball league or basketball pick-up game appeals to the social side of choosing a physical activity
• Paddle boarding, cycling or surfing are exercises that connects with nature
It's clear that getting your heart pumping with a cardio workout does not necessarily have to involve running.
• Consider cardio kickboxing workouts to burn up that excess fat. Plus you’ll enjoy the added bonus of kicking and punching your daily stress away.
• CrossFit exercise classes are the latest fitness craze to take the country by storm. The sheer intensity of these workouts will maximize calorie burning and challenge you, regardless of your fitness level.
• Swimming is an outstanding overall body workout that allows you to exercise without putting stress on your joints. It’s perfect for adults who want to recapture the fun fitness workout of their youth while avoiding the pounding knees and hips that come with jogging.
• HIIT. One of the best exercises you can do if you get bored easily is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is a very efficient form of cardio that involves a warm-up period followed by intervals of normal and maximum speed and then a cool-down period. HIIT is quick and effective. This fitness technique applies to cycling, treadmills, ellipticals and all sort of cardio workouts.
• Walking. You don’t have to make fitness difficult. Just walking is a beneficial aerobic exercise and research reveals it can add years to your life.
On the Inside
Warm weather promotes better food choices and nutritional habits. There is so much yummy seasonal fresh produce available in spring and summer. It makes for a great time to focus on a healthy diet and lifestyle on the inside, not just the outside of your body.
Just like exercise, a healthy diet can improve mood, focus, energy, and metabolism. The positive impact that warm, sunny weather has on mental health is genuine and backed by scientific research.
But there is need to turn your family into vegetarians just to eat healthy. There’s nothing wrong with a little red meat in your diet at a bar-b-que, but cutting down to eating red meat once a week is a healthy goal for the warmer weather. Choose for fish and chicken instead (and we don’t mean fried chicken).
It’s also important to hydrate during the warmer months. As the weather gets warmer and more humid, drinking enough water becomes essential. Did you know there are “water-dense foods” that can actually help? “High-water foods” include cantaloupe, watermelon, berries and tomatoes.
So grab your sneakers and get some exercise. Walk to your local Farmer’s Market to enjoy local fruits and vegetables and you’ll get the extra benefit of a cardio workout at the same time!