It may seem cruel to talk about the best types of workouts for summertime at the beginning of Spring, especially as snow, sleet, and freezing rain seem to be white knuckling their hold on a lot of the country. However, there are those among us who live in warmer climates (Hawaii, we are looking at you) and the rest of us are fast approaching warmer weather (I promise). Why not use them as something to look forward to, and something to train for, as we wait for the sunshine and heat to return? Here are five workouts that are distinctly Summer and that you should start fantasising about now!
Summer means sun. Sun leads to the beach. The beach leads to swimming. And your first option for a great summertime fitness activity. Simple and straightforward, swimming is an all-season activity that gets a serious upgrade when the sun comes out and we take it outdoors. The outdoor swim allows for vitamin D absorption, something we all lack after a Winter indoors. Pool swims are great, but if you want a serious challenge, try open-water swimming in a lake or ocean. Currents provide resistance, and the extra effort required to stay on course elevates the work beyond the steady-state rhythm of pool swimming. Whether it’s in chlorine or the great outdoors, swimming advances the cardio and strength elements our bodies need without the impact of land-based workouts. Give it a try: swimsuit season will have a new meaning!
Why not use that fabulous warm water as a fitness conduit? Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is fantastic for core work and balance, as well as upper-body strength building. Boga is a board-based water workout, incorporating yoga and other cardio exercises. Simply staying on the board for these is workout enough, but they also have an element all workouts need: fun! What’s the point of being fit and fabulous if you can’t enjoy the process of getting there? If it’s something you’ll enjoy doing, you’ll make the time for it. And we all know that showing up is the majority of the workout. There is some technique involved, so do yourself a favour and take a lesson before boarding off into the sunset. The key to any activity is mastering the fundamentals, but once you do, you’ll have a blast on the way to better, sunshiney fitness.
Trail Running/Outdoor Cycling/Hiking
For those creatures of the land, Summer is the time to take your running, biking, and climbing activities to the great outdoors. No amount of treadmill or indoor cycling work can duplicate the challenges of the outdoors: the unplanned changes in elevation and effort, the unstable surfaces, climate considerations, bugs getting caught in your teeth . . . When you are outside, your body must immediately adapt to keep moving forward. There is nothing like being out in the elements pursuing greater fitness. And summer is the season for getting the full fitness experience: take your yoga mat outside for a real Sun Salutation; find a trail for your run, walk, hike, or bike ride; set your circuit work up at a track with stadium seating (or find some stairs for this workout); maybe dust off your inline skates for a little glide. All of these options get you out and about and will make you forget you are burning calories along the way.
Tennis, basketball, sand court volleyball, even pickleball: all of these sports are played outside and bring the unique element of 360-degree movement. Let’s face it, most of our activities such as treadmills, cycling, ellipticals, and everyday things like walking or climbing stairs have us moving in a singular plane of motion, forward and backward. Even traditional strength training limits the directions the muscles, bones, and joints move. By comparison, court sports require pivots, quick directional changes, bursts of speed, and lots of vertical movements. Incorporating these other planes of motion is important, not just to challenge our bored muscles but also to improve stability, joint dexterity, and overall conditioning. You can’t play them alone, either, so the community aspect of these activities brings social interaction and teamwork. Not bad work if you can get it! Add a dash of Summer sun, and you’ll forget those lonely, dark hours in the Winter gym.
Baseball, softball, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, soccer — they aren’t just for kids. Sometimes we need to take a step back from our usual workout routine and reassess how we approach our fitness. When did getting healthier have to be all work and no play? The reason these sports have adult leagues is because grown folks still enjoy them. And you can be one of them. After all, why are we working so hard to be physically fit? Because we want to be able to do things. Anything we want, really. It’s called functional fitness. The hand-eye coordination you get through sports is not easily replicated through traditional workout regimens, and neither is the team aspect many are seeking through these leagues. There are all-season leagues to pick from, but why not pick the ones with the solar vibes? Join up, work hard, and let your fitness flow in time with your fun in the sun.