Health

Make Summer Great for your Health

May 2, 2013

iStock_000008601462XSmallI don’t know about you, but my favorite childhood memories feature summer trips in my parent’s car and hearing that song on the radio about “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” on repeat.  Growing up on the east coast of the United States, I certainly remember the “hazy” days and I guess sometimes all of the heat and humidity can make you a little “crazy”, but it never pays to be “lazy.”

The best part about summertime is the increased daylight hours which means more time for outdoor activities. This makes summer the best time to start getting on a workout schedule to improve your overall health and shed some excess weight. Going outside for a daily jog or bike ride is great but the easiest way to begin is just by simply walking. That’s right, just good old walking! It’s free, you can do it alone or with others, and you can fit it into your daily routine very easily.  On top of that, Its physiological and psychological benefits are practically endless.

Good for Walking

Scientists have concluded in countless studies, that, exercise is essential for good health and disease prevention. Walking, if done properly and regularly, can help to prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Cancer and Depression. Looking to shed some extra holiday weight? Walking is essential for both weight control and weight loss.

How often  and at what pace you should walk depends on your personal goal.  For instance, if weight loss is your goal, then you should count on walking everyday.  If cardiovascular fitness is what you are looking for, then every other day (4 times a week) may be enough for you.  Obviously, the longer and faster you can go, the more beneficial it will be, but, be careful that you don’t overdo it!  People that live a more sedentary lifestyle must start slowly and build up gradually.  It is essential before you begin a walking program that you visit your doctor first for a complete medical evaluation. Once you have your physician’s approval you can begin.

You are going to want to start at a comfortable pace; walk as though you are slightly late for an appointment.  You can also use the “talk test” to see if you are going too fast (If you can’t say your name three times in a row, you are pushing too hard).  You should aim for a minimum of 3.5 miles per hour, 4.5 mph or more for a more strenuous walk.  The recommended minimum time for walking is 30-40 minutes, however if you are a beginner, start off slowly and build up to that amount.

Maintain good posture while you are walking and look straight ahead.  Swinging your arms will increase your caloric burn greatly, but make sure your arms are going in a forward direction and not crossing in front of you.  Remember, A good sturdy pair of proper walking shoes is essential to a good workout. You should look to replace your shoes after 400-500 miles of walking.  If you don’t have proper shoes or your shoes are worn out, you probably will suffer some type of injury in the lower extremities.

Vitamin D Benefits

One of the great benefits of outdoor exercising in the summer is that sunshine is the primary source of Vitamin D.  In recent years, numerous studies have shown that having adequate amounts of Vitamin D in our bodies helps prevent many cancers, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, asthma in children and diabetes. In fact, the latest research seems to connect low levels of Vitamin D with a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis. It also seems Vitamin D can help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, infectious diseases such as the flu and perhaps even mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression.

The best way to get your dose of Vitamin D is to go into the sun for 20 minutes per day without sunscreen 4 days a week from 9:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon.

All of that being said, remember to use some caution when going out into the sun. Drink plenty of water and make sure to wear adequate amounts of sunblock for prolonged exposure to the sun.

A little sunshine can go a long, long way!

Outdoor workouts and vitamin D are great ways to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 17 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at alan@loseit.co.il   Check out the Lose It! web site - www.loseit.co.il US Line: 516-568-5027