Easy ways to stay fit this summer

Rene Castro

Summer is traditionally known as bikini season. By this time of year, people who were serious about their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or be healthier have turned those aspirations into habits. 

For these weight-room warriors, leaving the University for the summer means not having access to the free gyms and recreational areas it provides. Often students cannot afford a pricey gym membership or don’t have access to gym equipment or even tracks to run on. It is possible, however, to stay fit and healthy without weights or equipment, the only weight you need is your body. 

As I began training for my 4,500-mile bike ride from Austin to Anchorage, Ala., I realized that it’s one thing to push yourself through a workout and a completely different thing to push your body to extremes; to get up the next morning and do it again, and again. I decided to do my research and make small changes that gradually became my lifestyle, and here are some tips on how you can do the same.

Body-weight exercises, or calisthenics, are a fantastic alternative to exercise equipment to get toned and lean muscles. The general consensus from many different sources, including livestrong.com, is that if you are looking to get large muscles, then weight training is the most direct way to get there. It is possible to get larger through calisthenics, but not to the size of a bodybuilder.

The list of body-weight exercises is endless, from planks, bridges and crunches for abs, to push-ups, pull-ups and dips for chest and arms. If you have a chair and a floor, there’s no excuse to not get a good sweat going. Pair this with running around your neighborhood and you’ve got the key to a leaner, more capable body. 

You’ve probably heard the saying “30 percent gym, 70 percent diet.” What you put into your body is crucial. A good rule of thumb is to stop eating when you feel 80-percent full. It takes the brain 20 minutes to realize that the stomach is full, dietitian and nutritionist Cara Stewart said in an article on livestrong.com. In a study published in 2008 by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, when participants were asked to eat slower and give their brains time to process exactly how full they were, they reportedly consumed significantly less calories. 

Another interesting tidbit is how your body interprets hunger. According to livestrong.com, the hypothalamus is the part of the brain that deals with both thirst and hunger. Since both of these signals come from the same place, we often get them confused. You might fulfill a craving to start eating snacks, only to be left craving more because you’re really just thirsty. Every time you get the impulse to snack, try consuming an 8 ounce glass of water instead and see if that subsides your hunger. 

Whatever you do, do it safely. There is a difference between the soreness and tightness you feel when working out and the pain associated with damaging your body. Not-Just-On-Weekends, a blog for those who enjoy the outdoors, urges new runners to gradually ease into running by keeping their running sessions short at the beginning, and to focus on pace, not speed when you start out.  

Always be sure to stretch before and after your workouts, as stretching helps keep soreness down and will ensure that you are able to keep up with your routine from day to day. If you do find that you get sore easily, mix up what you do each day. If your upper body is sore, focus on your lower body with lunges and squats so that your upper body has a day to rest. 

Changes come slowly, so don’t be discouraged. Being fit isn’t something you do for a few weeks in the summer; it’s a lifestyle. Make changes to your routine gradually in order to let changes stick. Replace snacks with fruits and vegetables you like. Go out and toss a Frisbee with friends. The important thing is that you enjoy whatever you do to be fit and healthy. That’s the only way these healthy habits will stick, and the only way you will achieve your fitness goals.

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