The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Summertime – A Great Time to Get Active!

uamatters_logo1While you are busy doing your thing this summer, don’t forget that summer is a great time to get in shape. “Warm weather brings more opportunities to be outside and that means more opportunities to increase your physical activity,” says George Brown, executive director of University Recreation at The University of Alabama.

“No matter whether you are reintroducing yourself to physical activity or getting into it for the first time, the benefits of regular and consistent physical activity and exercise will pay big dividends to all aspects of your health and well-being,” he says.
Brown offers tips for starting an exercise program or increasing your physical activity this summer:

  • Start slowly — Nothing will be built overnight, so take the time to get into physical activity at a pace that is enjoyable and does not become a burden or something you dread.
      
  • What you do is less important than how often and how much you do it — Physical activity comes in a variety of forms! You may be more inclined to walk or even garden or cut the lawn than to lace up a pair of running shoes and jog. Activities that raise your core temperature, elevate your heart rate or cause increased breathing all are conducive to health benefits. Find something you like and go for it!
      
  • Stretch for flexibility — Make sure you devote time to stretching before and after activity. Allow muscles to slowly warm-up and then perform area-specific stretches that carefully allow muscles to become warmed, more flexible and able to handle the activity.
      
  • Listen to your body — A certain level of soreness as you begin any new exercise plan is inevitable. There is a difference between pain and soreness. Persistent pain localized at a given area is generally a sign of your body telling you that an injury has occurred or is likely to occur. Soreness that becomes more pronounced as you continue to exercise is also worth reviewing and consulting with medical professionals.
      
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! — The body is not equipped with the best thermostat. When we are thirsty we are actually already dehydrated. Keep plenty of water nearby before, during and after exercise. A good rule thumb is the “8×8 Rule” — consume eight 8-ounce servings (approximately 1.9 liters) per day.
      
  • How long and often? — For most individuals, health benefits occur with as little as 20-30 minutes of activity that achieves a heart rate increase to between 60-75% of maximum heart rate. The frequency of such activity should be at least 4-5 days per week. For longer duration activities, breaking up bouts of exercise can often lessen the sheer amount of time at any given period that is devoted to physical activity. Twenty minutes in the morning and 25 in the evening would be fine, Brown said.
      
  • Have fun — Nothing is sustained if there is not an element of fun and play involved. Find activities that you truly enjoy. Do not force yourself into a competitive mode with each exercise session. Variety almost always equals more enjoyment.
      
  • Find a friend — Exercise and physical activity with a friend or friends is a great way to stay motivated and to “challenge each other” on days when you might not get it done on your own.
      
  • Life happens! — Accept that there will be days where illness, work or other commitments keep you from exercising. Do not dwell on these days as setbacks or think that you must start all over. If more than a few days off occur, simply start slowly and carefully rebuild your activity. Don’t become a “weekend warrior” and try to catch up for lost days all in one or two sessions.
      
  • Reward your accomplishments — As goals are attained and your health and well-being improve, congratulate yourself with recognition. Go to the fancy restaurant you have been craving, buy those special jeans you had your eye on, head to the movies and watch the latest feature. Enjoy and revel in the moments as your hard work should be noted and celebrated! You have earned it!

UA Matters is a bi-weekly column that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The columns are available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Suzanne Dowling at 205/348-8324 or sdowling@ur.ua.edu.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.