Making time to exercise is not easy when you’re juggling a job, a social life and that never-ending list of life admin. Then summer comes along. Longer days, warmer weather and time off work or freedom from the school run. It’s the perfect time for getting out and exercising a bit more. Or is it?
The reality is that summer can throw up a quite a few challenges for keeping fit. The good news is that none of these are insurmountable. With a bit of planning and motivation, it’s not too hard keep fit over the summer months. Here’s how:
I’m going away on holiday…
Everyone looks forward to going away on holiday. It’s a chance to switch off from the usual daily routine based around work and school. Unfortunately our exercise routines can also get a bit neglected as part of the big switch off.
The good news is that it takes between 7 and 14 days for your fitness levels to start to decline. So, if you are only going away for a week, then you should be able to pick up where you left off when you get back home. However, if you’ve been eating and drinking more than usual, then you’ll probably feel less fit and your clothes might start to feel a bit snug by the end of the week.
I recommend to all my clients that they plan to do some kind of workout a few times week while on holiday – providing they are not trekking in the Himalayas or something similarly active. Not only does this help keep their fitness levels up and counteract any holiday food indulgences, but it’s also a good way to get some headspace.
Even if you only manage one workout and you otherwise stay fairly active (walks along the beach, hiring a bike to explore the local sights, swimming a few lengths in the pool), you’ll feel better about yourself than if you stay horizontal on a sun lounger sipping cocktails all week.
- Plan to be active Pack your gym or exercise clothes and some trainers. If you are staying in a hotel or resort, check out the gym facilities and any classes they run. Have a chat with your partner or whoever you are travelling with and let them know that you’d like some time to go off and exercise. When we are on holiday, my husband and I try give each other an hour a day of kid -free time where we can off and do our own thing. For me, that’s usually a run or a workout followed by a peaceful coffee somewhere. Whereas he goes off to do photography. It’s a good chance for us both to get some “me time”.
- Try a new kind of workout Holidays can be a great opportunity to try new kinds of exercise. If you don’t normally swim and there’s a pool where you are staying, why not try doing a certain number of lengths each day? Pack your swimming goggles and find a time of the day when the pool is quiet. Try increasing the number of lengths each day. You could download some yoga or HIIT workouts onto your phone. If you are staying in a resort, check out the classes they are offering. Many hotels and resorts gym have personal trainers, so you could find out about booking a PT session. And of course, there’s always poolside Zumba if you are game!!
The kids are at home….
School summer holidays range from 6 weeks up to about 10 weeks, depending on the school. That’s an awfully long time to let your exercise routine slip. As I said above, you can get away with about 2 weeks of not exercising before your fitness levels start to noticeably decline. But if you leave it 6 weeks, then I’m sorry to say it will be hard starting up again come September. So how do you fit in exercise when you’ve got kids at home who need entertaining?
- Do active things with kids Go for a bike ride or a beach or woodland walk with them. Play football or frisbee. Take them to a tennis court and have a hit with them. You’d be surprised how tiring it is chasing a ball around a field or court. If your kids are old enough to swim unsupervised, take them to the local pool and let them play around while you do a few lengths. Get out and about and try to walk as much as possible.
- Shorten your workouts and increase the intensity So going out for an hour long run is nigh on impossible, but with a bit of organisation, you should be able to squeeze in a couple of 15-20 minute HIIT workouts a few times a week. Use the time when they are eating breakfast and watching some TV (or reading books or colouring in) to do a quick workout. You’ll find loads of options on You Tube.
- Do a babysitting swap I know that I need a break from my kids for my sanity as much as anything. Find a friend who has similar age children and agree to do a playdate swap. Use your kid free time to do a longer workout and then use rest of the time to blast through the other things you struggle to get done when they are around. Just make sure you take 15 minutes or so to simply chill and enjoy some downtime.
It’s so hot…..
If, like me, you spend the winter months dreaming of warm days when you can leave the house for a run in shorts and a t-shirt (instead of the 10 pre-run minute palaver of trying to locate suitable gloves and a hat to stop your fingers and ears freezing. Not to mention trying to muster up motivation to go out in the elements). But summer can present its own weather challenges. Exercising in the heat is generally not much fun and it can be quite risky.
Exercise and warm weather increase your core body temperature. When you combine the two — for example, when you run on a hot, humid day — even seasoned athletes need to exercise caution. Your body cools itself by sweating, but cooling down is harder in humid weather because perspiration doesn’t evaporate as quickly from your skin. Your heart rate rises as your body works hard to keep its cool. So how to exercise when it’s really hot?
- Exercise early morning or later in the day Pick a time when the temperatures are lower and the heat from the sun is not so intense. If the only time you can exercise is when the sun is out (and you want to be outdoors), stay in the shade.
- Seek out air con Air-conditioned gyms are a godsend in hot weather. If you are in a hotel or resort, make the most of their gym facilities. But be warned, if you are travelling at a peak time, you may not be the only one in there! Go early in the morning to beat the rush. If you are staying at home or in a holiday cottage or villa, check out the local gyms. Many gyms offer pay as you go rates and some have great discounts during the summer when gyms tend to be a bit quieter. Try the Hussle app to find gyms near you.
- Have fun in water Swimming is perfect exercise when it’s hot. It’s my go-to exercise when I’m in Singapore visiting my brother and his family. A few conditioning treatments when I get back home usually sort out the chlorine-induced havoc on my hair.
If you are exercising in hot weather without air con, remember to scale back your workout. A workout that feels easy on a temperate day can be dangerously intense on a hot, humid afternoon. Respect your body and your own limitations. Dress appropriately. Stay hydrated and don’t push yourself.
So there you have it, 8 ways to squeeze some exercise in over the summer holidays. When it comes to exercise, doing something is always better than doing nothing.