Indoor workouts still have a place amid summertime fun
The lure of summer is upon us. Vacations, softball tournaments and family walks under the midnight sun all make summer sweet. As days get longer and temperatures grow warmer, we often pack our indoor activities away like our winter coats. But let’s take some time to explore a few reasons why staying fit by using indoor training options still has its place during this time of outdoor recreational fun.
You may have heard of muscle atrophy, or muscle loss, that happens as we age. For most people after reaching age 25, muscle atrophy increases until middle age where it begins to progress more rapidly. Resistance training combined with healthy eating habits will drastically reduce this process and help protect our bodies from injury. Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance. The external resistance can be dumbbells, rubber exercise tubing, your own body weight, bricks, water or any other object that causes the muscles to contract.
If you have already been doing some resistance training in a fitness club, then continuing those already established habits should be easy and consistent with your current lifestyle. Need a reduction in frequency, duration or time in the gym? It’s OK; this allows you to keep any gains you’ve made during the winter months while still fitting in your favorite outdoor activities. Considering most outdoor activities or sports are cardio based, the need to continue or begin a resistance-training program remains as a preventative health measure to combat muscle atrophy.
Whether you’re a professional athlete or it’s your first summer playing golf, developing and training existing muscle to perform and function will enable you to play at the top of your game. Summer generally means you will become more active, so resistance and cardiovascular training indoors will help you prepare, enjoy and excel at everything you will be doing outdoors. Planning on riding your bike this summer? I recommend spending some time on an upright bike or taking a spin class to give your muscles a reminder. Even everyday tasks like walking, bending over and picking up your little ones or holding your own in a friendly game of horse shoes at the family barbecue can cause aches, pains or uncomfortable soreness if not ready.
Unless on vacation, most Alaskans don’t spend much time swimming outdoors, except for that small window when some lakes are warm enough to get out in and enjoy. Indoor recreation facilities and fitness clubs that offer a pool and aquatics programs allow users to learn to swim and stay in the water year-round. Taking the family to the pool is a great way to spend time together while being active, and building water safety skills and confidence. Swimming laps or participating in aqua aerobics are also effective low-impact resistance exercises. Putting on that swimsuit and going out in public also might be a good test of how you’re feeling about your body condition when it’s not covered up in fleece or down. If you’re not happy, you might want to set some goals, like increasing your activity level and monitoring your nutrition.
Maintaining and building muscle is good for your metabolism, makes you strong, prevents falling, prevents injury, and lifts your mood. Whether maintaining or beginning a workout routine with a goal of continued muscular health, performing better at your sport or outside activity, or building skills and confidence in the pool, any or all of these can be achieved by consistent resistance and cardiovascular training. Your time inside helps you maximize your time outside. Summer is short, but glorious, here in the land of the midnight sun.
Adam Lonergan is executive director of Fitness Services at The Alaska Club.
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