Beat the Heat

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By Catherine Wachira, PMHNP

Are you thinking it’s too hot to exercise now? With temperatures steadily rising as we approach June and July, those who normally enjoy being outdoors may find it unbearable being outside, let alone exercising. While it might seem almost impossible to exercise throughout the year, keep in mind that exercise benefits both cognitive function and well-being (Mandolesi et al., 2018). Let’s explore some ways to continue practicing self-care by making small changes to ensure you stay active and beat the heat.

Are you a morning person who likes the outdoors? Jump start your day by taking an early morning walk or jog before it gets too hot. This strategy will have you feeling energized and motivated for the day! If mornings are not a plausible option due to work schedules and childcare routines, take your exercise indoors. Join a local gym such as YMCA. Be sure to scout your neighborhood for all gym options, which can vary in amenities, classes, and membership fees. The benefit of a gym membership is that there are other gym members attending which can be a motivating factor. For those who work from home, being part of a gym allows you to socialize, especially if you are part of a fitness group. Finally, try swimming indoors or outdoors. Swimming is a great low impact activity and keeps you cool.

Sometimes carving the extra time out of your day to step out of your house seems almost impossible. Consider investing in fitness equipment such as a treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing machine in your home. Go a step further and join a motivating interactive online class, such as Peloton, which is offered through stationary bikes and treadmill. Be sure to select equipment that fits your fitness level, physical capabilities, and goals. For example, a rowing machine is ideal for those who want to strengthen the back, arms, and abs while avoiding high impact on the lower extremities. Do keep in mind, there are also a variety of ways to exercise in your own home, even without equipment. Many apps provide customized fitness programs to help you meet your exercise goals by using your own body weight and no equipment or fancy gym.

While it is important for adults to stay active, it is equally important to keep children physically active as well. During the school year, children are used to having structure, which ensures that they engage in physical activity, healthy diet, and regular sleep schedules (Brusseau et al, 2019). However, without this structure, summer months are a time whereby obesity in children grows (Brusseau et al, 2019). Studies have shown that children who participate in organized sport during summer break are more fit (Brusseau et al, 2019). Organized sports and summer camps are excellent options to maintain structure and an active lifestyle after the school year ends. Children and parents can stay active by swimming or even planning trips to water parks. The best being in the water is that you stay cool the entire time while having loads of fun. Just don’t forget your sunscreen! Be sure to regularly engage your child in activities they enjoy which may be soccer, basketball, bike riding, or baseball. Bear in mind, some children prefer informal activities with their friends which is perfectly okay.

In summary, keep yourself and your children active this summer by finding what works for you as an individual or as a family to beat the heat!

Resources:

Brusseau, T., Burns, R., Fu Y, & Weaver, G. (2019). Childhood Obesity, 15 (8), 541-547

Mandolesi, L., Polverino, A., Montuori, S., Foti, F., Ferraioli, G., Pierpaolo Sorrentino, P, & Sorrentino, G. (2018). Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits. Frontiers in Psychology.

https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00509