This essay was written by our summer Writing Intern, Kate.
Working out can be a hassle as it is, and with the summer heat, getting up to go to the gym or go on a run can feel like a gargantuan task. Slogging away on a treadmill or elliptical machine is probably the last thing you want to do on a sticky summer day. But spending the day in front of a TV screen or texting with friends, while perhaps fun in the moment, will just leave you feeling crabby and blah. It’s no secret exercise makes you feel better – countless studies have proven its mood-lifting and energy-boosting effects. So how can you reap the rewards without making yourself miserable – or even without noticing you’re exercising?
Try a dance workout
It’s hard to do a couple shimmies to Party in the USA without letting a smile creep across your face. Even horrible dancers like myself aren’t immune to the amazing feeling of jamming to a great song. Dancing prompts an emotional release, while also helping reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Essentially, you get the benefits of a tough cardio workout while having a ton of fun. There are plenty of dance workout videos you can find online, ranging from hip hop to Zumba. Try my personal favorite, this 20-minute calorie-scorcher that incorporates plyometrics, or jump training, into amazingly fun routines. Find a space to jump around and get ready to dance your heart out.
Fun apps like Zombies, Run!
Even if you avoid running like the (zombie) plague, you’d be hard-pressed to stay on the couch after hearing the ominous groans of the zombies as they loom behind you (from your earbuds, of course). Zombies, Run! is an exergame app in which the player acts as a runner trying to survive the zombie apocalypse through a series of missions, during which they run, collect supplies, and listen to various audio narrations to uncover mysteries. You can also choose to have zombie “chases” at random points during your run, which require you to speed up a certain amount to avoid being caught by zombies. The plot is complex and gripping and the sound effects scarily realistic. There are plenty of apps that make working out a game, and if running isn’t for you, recently the same company that made Zombies, Run! has come out with a similar app for walking! Check them out and see how they can spice up your workout routine. Also, pro tip: if it’s too hot to run, wait until it rains. It’ll feel liberating and exciting, plus you’ll stay cool!
Be a kid again
Seriously, how awesome was it when we were little and just jumped and played all day, getting exercise (a) without noticing it and (b) while having MOUNTAINS of fun? Try to inject some of that childlike energy into your life. Go outside and just run around! Take the dog for a walk and let it sniff whatever it wants. Jump rope! It may sound silly, but it’s actually a great workout and it can be lots of fun trying all the variations! Climb a tree (carefully). Visit a playground and try your hand at the monkey bars. Find a patch of grass and do cartwheels. Play hopscotch, or jump from rock to rock trying not to touch the ground. Grab some friends and play tag, or run through the sprinkler. Have a water-balloon fight! Seriously, why do we stop doing these things when we get older?
Go for a swim
Few things feel better than jumping into the pool on an unbearably hot day. Find a lake or nearby beach, or just head to a swimming pool for that sweet refreshing goodness. Splash around with some friends, swim a couple of laps, race each other, maybe try out water aerobics. Better yet, if you have access to a lake or beach, try out paddle-boarding and get a core workout in. It’s a great way to get some exercise while staying cool!
Go for a bike ride
Biking is one of those things we’re taught as a kid and then rediscover later on. Not only is it a ton of fun, it’s a great workout, and an amazing way to explore some beautiful sights. Look for bike paths nearby or find a safe neighborhood to explore. You might even be able to bike to a friend’s house or to get ice cream! Who needs cars, anyway?
Start and end your day with a walk
Walking is a great form of low intensity exercise. You won’t be risking injury, and it can help with mindfulness and mood. When the heat gets unbearable, go on a stroll first thing in the morning before it gets hot, and then again when evening sets in. Find a nature trail and go exploring, or take a nice picturesque walk on a beach (easy in theory, but it’s actually a great workout navigating slippery sands!). Bring a dog – if you don’t have one, see if you can get paid to walk someone else’s! Try meditating while you’re walking with an app like Walking Meditations. You’ll be surprised by how much calmer and more peaceful you’ll feel!
Maybe not the first fun activity that comes to your mind, but it feels really good to get things done, especially when you’re getting exercise at the same time. Do something you’ve been meaning to do for forever, like mowing the lawn or organizing your bookshelf. Clean, dust, vacuum, dance around with a mop and blast music. Go on a cleaning spree and clean the whole house – your parents will be thrilled! Take before and after pictures so you can really revel in your success. You’ll get the double satisfaction of getting things done and staying active!
The list goes on – from beach volleyball or canoeing to running up and down stairs or hiking, there are plenty of ways to stay active that don’t involve shuffling away on a treadmill. This summer, don’t fall victim to heat-induced lethargy or laziness. Grab a water bottle, lather on the sunscreen, and get outside! Make a workout plan or just be spontaneous, and pair it with a delicious healthy diet to really start feeling great. You’ll be so glad you did.
Do you like to stay active in the summer? Comment below!
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Feature Image Credit: Tirachard Kumtanom via Pexels.com