Family fun in the pool

Summer Shape-Up: How to Get Fit and Have Fun Doing It

Summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to get ready for beach trips and exciting outdoor adventures! Exercise doesn’t have to be daunting or boring. In fact, it can be enjoyable and bring amazing benefits for both your body and mind. So, let’s dive into this article and explore how you can make exercise an enjoyable part of your routine to get in shape for an unforgettable summer!

Picking the Perfect Exercise Routine to Fit Your Lifestyle

When choosing an exercise routine, it’s crucial to prioritize activities that you find enjoyable and fun that fit your lifestyle. The key is to find something that you can stick with over the long term. Try to think about what you want to achieve and what activities you enjoy, such as hiking, swimming, cycling, yoga, or even ballroom dancing when choosing an exercise routine that works best for you. Any activity that requires physical effort counts!

While everyone needs a balance of strength-training, cardio and stretching/flexibility, there are many ways to incorporate these elements into your routine. For example, you could do cardio and resistance training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, go for a walk or hike on Tuesday and Thursday, and attend a yoga class on Saturday. Alternatively, you could try an exercise like swimming that incorporates cardio, strength-training, and stretching all in one. Ideally you want to choose a mix of exercises you enjoy, that get your heart rate up and work your muscles.

How can exercise prevent health issues

From a functional and integrative medicine perspective, exercise is a key component of overall health and wellness. Not only does it help support physical health, but it can also benefit mental health, hormone balance, and inflammation levels. By incorporating regular exercise into your routine, you can help support your body’s natural processes and improve your overall health.

Exercise is not just about weight loss; it is critical in preventing Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and numerous other health issues. It strengthens your heart, increases circulation and raises oxygen levels in the body. This helps lower your risk of heart diseases as well as lowers your blood pressure. In addition, it helps you avoid type 2 diabetes because it reduces your risk of obesity and regulates your hormones and insulin production.

Just 30 minutes of exercise a day prevents chronic illness and underlying imbalances in the body. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling and weight-bearing activities also help you reduce your risk of arthritis by strengthening your muscles without being hard on your joints. Start small – even 5 minutes makes a difference – and gradually build up to 30 minutes a day. It’s important also that during these 30 minutes, you are elevating your heart rate to the point where you could only speak in 3-5 word sentences. This is considered increased cardio work.

The Mind-Body Connection: How Exercise Enhances Mental Well-being

Enhancing mind through meditation

Exercise not only helps prevent disease, but it also has numerous benefits for the mind. Along with maintaining muscle mass and reducing body fat, daily exercise can lead to better sleep quality, improved mood, and reduced anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercise has been shown to have antidepressant effects and regular exercise of any kind helps manage anxiety and prevent stress.

When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins and endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters that block pain, increase pleasure, and promote a feeling of calm euphoria. Additionally, exercise can stimulate dopamine release, which affects crucial bodily processes such as sleep regulation, heart rate, mood, attention, motivation, working memory, and pain processing.

Exercise also increases neuroplasticity, which helps with learning new things, and enhances the oxygen supply to your brain, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and stroke.

Nutrition: The Foundation of Your Exercise Routine

Eating a well-balanced diet composed of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats is crucial to support your body’s natural processes and fuel your workouts. It’s not just about what you eat but also when you eat it, as it affects your performance and recovery.

While exercising in a fasted state, such as first thing in the morning, can boost metabolism and burn calories efficiently while controlling blood sugar, the effectiveness of pre and post-workout nutrition on muscle growth and recovery is debatable. Listen to your body and note how you feel when you eat before exercise compared to when you don’t, as each body has unique needs.

Staying hydrated is equally important, particularly when exercising outdoors in hot weather. Consider supplementing with electrolytes or other hydration-boosting supplements during the summer months to help your body process nutrients effectively.

Integrating exercise into your routine for overall health

As an integrative medicine doctor, I strongly believe in taking a holistic approach to achieving optimum health and well-being. This approach involves incorporating exercise with other modalities such as nutrition, supplements, and mindfulness practices. It’s important to note that there is rarely only one solution to a health issue, and it takes a blend of healthy living practices to optimize your health.

So how do you integrate exercise with your other modalities? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, addresses the value of “habit stacking,” the act of adding a new habit immediately before or after a current habit. This helps your brain adopt a new habit more quickly and reliably. For example, you might try adding a 30-minute walk after you meditate each morning. Or right before going to bed, set out your workout outfit so you put it on first thing upon waking.

Making exercise a non-negotiable part of your daily routine is crucial for consistency and long-term success. By prioritizing exercise as the most important task of your day, you ensure that it becomes a non-negotiable habit, regardless of how your day unfolds, the weather conditions, or the availability of workout partners. Remember, exercise is the most important thing you can do for your health, and therefore, it should be the most important thing you do all day. So, make exercise the cornerstone of your daily routine and watch your health soar to new heights!

Making Exercise Fun: Strategies for Finding Joy in Physical Activity

kayaking for exercise

It’s important to make exercise fun for you and create habits that make it easy to include it in your normal weekly routine. Consistently including exercise you enjoy in your routine is key to getting the results you want for your body and mind. Ask yourself: what types of active movement do I feel most joyful doing? Be open to trying new forms of exercise that interest you.

Below are 8 tips for making your weekly exercise routine fun:

  • Listen to music that pumps you up while you exercise
  • Work out with a friend
  • At least once / month, try a new type of exercise or a new class
  • Give yourself a reward, even for the smallest effort
  • Pick one thing you like about working out and make that your focus the next time
  • Exercise outside and enjoy being in nature
  • Make it a game, and challenge yourself to “win”
  • Treat yourself to a new pair of workout shoes or workout clothes

The good news is that each time you do aerobic activity, you release endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Often referred to as “the runner’s high,” these are activated by other activities like dancing, tennis or hiking as well. These endorphins will help to reinforce your next round of exercise because you’ll remember how good you felt afterwards.

A Balanced Approach to Summer Fitness: Mind, Body, and Goals

It’s tempting to feel pressured or rushed to fit into a swimsuit or be ready to take an active trip with family. However, your mindset is where your exercise routine begins. Be sure to assess your time, abilities and goals with room for rest. Set SMART goals for yourself: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed.

For instance, if you want to be strong enough to paddle a kayak in two months, set specific goals for improving your arm and core strength and write them down. Keep track of your progress during each workout in a journal or on your phone, and commit to a workout schedule that works for you. Enlist a friend to be your accountability partner and check in with you weekly.

Remember that steady progress is key, and making small, sustainable changes to your routine over time will help you reach your goals. Don’t push yourself too hard or too fast, as this can lead to injury or burnout. Aim to move every day in a way that is enjoyable and celebrate your successes along the way. With consistency and dedication, you can get in shape and enjoy all the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle just in time for summer.

Dr. Cheri Dersam

Dr. Dersam is board certified in both Integrative and Emergency Medicine and fellowship trained in Functional Medicine. Dr. Dersam focuses on a personalized approach that empowers each patient to achieve optimal health in mind, body and spirit.

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