From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

By Matt Mayer, MSc.

August can be a month of intense heat. Simple activities, such as yard work or walking to the corner store, can end up feeling like full blown workouts. Humidity saturates the air with water vapour and limits your body's ability to sweat and cool off. So what can you do to stay fit at this time of year?

Water activities are one way to remain cool and work out at the same time. On a lake, at a beach, in a pool, or just having some fun in a backyard wading pool or sprinkler, you can have a bit of fun and be active. Try these options:

Water aerobics: Working out in the water can be just as effective as on a treadmill or stationary bike. What's more, the buoyancy of water is perfect for those with joint and muscle problems, which can be a barrier to fitness. Try this workout:

  • Warm-up: Tread water for 1 minute.
  • Water kick: Grab a water board or side of a pool or dock with your hands and scissor kick with just your legs and feet for 60 seconds at a quick pace. Keep your back flat (no arch) as if you were swimming. Repeat 15 times.
    • What it works: legs, buttocks, core, and abdominals.
  • Squat jumps: Move to an area where the water is waist level and stand with feet hip-width apart. Lower yourself as if you were sitting in a chair, making sure you keep your knees behind your feet and maintaining a straight back. When your thighs become parallel with the bottom, jump up as high as you can. Repeat 15 times.
    • What it works: legs, hamstrings, calves.
  • Water run: Move to an area where the water is shoulder level and your feet are flat on the bottom. Maintain a controlled upright position and simulate jogging, but focus landing solidly on your foot before taking the next step. Jog for 5 minutes in place.
    • What it works: thigh, calves, buttocks, core, abdominals, and arms
  • Water sports: Water skiing, wakeboarding and water-tubing combine strength, agility and endurance to give a full body workout. Or try sports such as water polo or volleyball. Recreational swimming is another good way to stay fit. Try the crawl or breaststroke. Do 20 laps.
    • What it works: total body workout.

Remember to drink water. Being in a pool, lake or sprinkler can keep your body cool while doing activity. This does not mean you will stay hydrated. Take frequent breaks to drink plenty of water to prevent cramping and dehydration.

Before starting any new activity program or diet program, be sure to talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Matthew Mayer is an exercise physiologist.

Posted: August 2011.

Heart and Stroke Foundation


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