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4 Tips for Staying Healthy & Active Through the Summer by Devin Gray, CSCS

Summer is now upon us. It’s the time of year for baseball games, cookouts, camping, Cape Cod, and two local favorites – gardening and golfing. If you stayed active and healthy, congratulations! Enjoy the summertime and your hobbies. If you didn’t, this article will give you some tips for staying healthy and strong. Spend your summer doing the things you love, not sitting on the couch with an ice pack.

Weekend warriors frequently experience aches, pains, and fatigue when jumping back into their favorite activities. Not surprisingly, the two are often related. The simple answer is that you may be more out of shape than you thought. The in-depth reason is that a season away from exercising has caused your mobility, flexibility, endurance, and strength to deteriorate. By resuming a structured exercise program, with an emphasis on mobility, functional strength, and cardiovascular endurance these deficits can be overcome. With the right program, you could be stronger than ever.

Tip 1 – Train the core the right way. If I had to pick four core exercises to do for the rest of my life, they would be front planks, side planks, bird dogs, and cable anti-rotations. Master those four basic movements in order to safely develop your core in multiple ranges of motion. If these exercises are unclear, stop by Team Fitness Franklin and I’ll demonstrate any or all of them for you.

Tip 2 – Increase your overall endurance before attempting anything extreme. The latest and greatest fitness program may be too intense for somebody who took the winter off. And that’s OK. Spend some time rebuilding your basic endurance, flexibility, and mobility before transitioning into your new program. Start off with general cardio on the treadmill, elliptical, or bicycle for 30 minutes and steadily improve. With weights, focus on lighter weights for higher (10-15) repetitions at the start. This will increase the thickness of your tendons and ligaments, thus decreasing the risk for muscle injuries.

Tip 3 – Use free weights and your own body to build your strength. Squats, pushups, lunges, and chin-ups are an amazingly effective way to build real-world strength. Dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells, and sandbags can also provide fantastic carryover to your favorite hobbies. These implements allow you to build strength and control using what we term stabilizing muscles. These stabilizers are often neglected by weight training machines. This becomes readily apparent when it comes time to mulch the lawn or move your son back in from college.

Tip 4 – Train to improve posture. The correct arrangement of exercises will not only improve your appearance through fat loss and muscle building, but can actually realign your posture through the correction of muscle imbalances. Movement assessments are a simple way to identify any such muscle imbalances. As a general tip – provide extra emphasis on the back of your legs and your upper back. These muscles are often weakened through inactivity and can contribute to poor posture.

These four principles are the foundations of my approach for reconditioning sedentary clients. As a result, they are able to resume their favorite activities with much less fatigue than they had at the start of the season.