Kathleen Schoder is the Health & Fitness Director for the Sandusky Area YMCA and regular columnist for FIT magazine. She can be reached at 419-625-6206 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a great time of the year to use extended daylight hours and warmer temperatures to add variety to your fitness routine or to start a new exercise program.
The fresh air can inspire you to give your fitness routine a makeover and help you to feel great.
The options for exercising outdoors are only limited to your imagination. Start out easy with light activity or for a more serious athlete choose an activity of higher intensity. These are only a few suggestions for how you can exercise outdoors:
* Take a walk. Walk in your neighborhood or take advantage of a local park's walking or biking trail. Walk or jog after dinner. Don't forget the dog. It is good for your pet and for you.
* Take a bike ride. An easy way to incorporate a bike ride into your day is to ride your bike to work or to the gym. Complete your workout at the facility and ride your bike home. Remember to wear your helmet.
* Swim laps. Perform your own water exercises or play with the kids in the pool. The Sandusky Area YMCA offers a variety of water exercises classes that allow you to become familiar with exercises to perform on your own. Start participating in them now so that you will be ready for summer.
* Take part in a 5k run/walk. Pick up applications for upcoming races at the Sandusky Area YMCA or other fitness facilities. Contact Firelands Are Runners at www.firelandsarearunners.org for a complete list of races.
* Call a friend to play a game of tennis.
* Make it a family affair. Play games like baseball, kickball or freeze tag with your children or grandchildren. Take them to the park and play on the equipment with them. Take them for a walk (make it a scavenger hunt) or a bike ride. You will feel like a kid again.
* Perform yard work. Picking up sticks, pulling weeds, raking the yard and mowing the grass are great ways to incorporate physical activity into your day.
Although exercising outdoors in spring and summer is exciting and fun, it is important to be safe. Listen to your body and pay attention for signs of the following conditions frequently brought on by extreme heat.
Heat cramps are muscle spasms that may happen while you are exercising or after you complete your workout. This is the first stage of heat related illness.
Heat exhaustion is the next, more serious stage of heat related illness. The signs include cold; clammy skin; pale skin; headache; dizziness and weakness or exhaustion; nausea; heavy sweating and the skin may or may not feel hot.
Heat stroke is the last and most serious stage of heat-related illness. It is life-threatening. The signs include hot, red and dry skin; lack of sweat, changes in consciousness; rapid and weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. The body temperature can be very high.
To avoid these conditions pay attention to how you feel and follow these tips:
* Exercise in the coolest part of the day, before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
* Allow your body to acclimate to the temperatures. It typically takes one to two weeks for your body to become acclimated.
* Wear loose fitting, lightweight and light colored clothing,
* Wear sunscreen
* Monitor your exercise intensity.
* Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after an activity. Don't wait until you feel thirsty.
* Walk/run and bike on shaded paths.
* Use common sense and pay attention to the way your body feels.
Whatever activities you chose to participate in this summer, take the time to savor the outdoors, smile while you are doing them and have fun! Cooler temperatures and snow will be back before you know it!