Hot Tips for Summertime Fitness

Take advantage of the great outdoors and vary your exercise routine

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and pump up your fitness routine. Whether you’re into daily exercise or once-in-a-while spurts of activity, summertime offers an abundance of opportunities to mix outdoors fun and fitness.

“Take advantage of all that Lake County and surrounding areas have to offer,” says Laurie DeSort, P.T., S.C.S., a Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital physical therapist who is certified in sports medicine. “The nice thing about summer is that there is such variety, such a multitude of choices for activity. Right here, we have so many paths and trails for biking, hiking, walking and jogging. Plus, there are many pools, lakes, rivers and beautiful settings to enjoy throughout the area.”

While sunny skies and warm temperatures may lure you outside, don’t let warm-weather exertion cool your summer fun. As Director of Rehabilitation Services for Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, DeSort offers advice on how to stay well as you get active outdoors.

  • Drink up. “Hydration is the biggest issue with summer exercise — even more than the heat,” says DeSort. The key is to drink consistently throughout the day so your body stays hydrated, instead of gulping down a gallon of water right before, during or after you exercise. “Staying hydrated consistently throughout the day makes your body better prepared to cope with hot, humid weather. If it’s extremely hot and humid, take a water break every 15 minutes.”

  • Stick with water. “Water is really the best drink for you. Unless you’re doing an intense activity for more than an hour, you don’t need those sugar-loaded energy drinks,” says DeSort. “If you crave the flavor, reduce the sugar by mixing an energy drink with water, half and half.”

  • Be safety smart. Wear the right safety equipment, even when it’s hot out. Helmets are especially important for any of the wheeled sports, including biking, skateboarding, scootering or rollerblading. Knee guards and wrist guards also are important for those who rollerblade or skateboard. “Every summer, we work with kids and teens in Rehab with injuries from skateboards and rollerblades,” says DeSort. “That’s not a fun way to spend your summer vacation!”

  • Screen against the sun. Sunscreen should be an essential part of your summer wear — whether you’re exercising or simply sitting outdoors. Hats and clothing that cover shoulders, necks and arms also offer protection against the sun’s damaging rays.

  • Take it easy mid-day. Try to schedule your activities for morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day and the strongest sun.


Try These Ideas for Summer Fun and Fitness

Whether you’re looking for activities with the kids, adults-only or on your own, consider some of these summertime options:

  • Bike Riding. Look for organized group bike rides that steer you through different areas of Lake County and southern Wisconsin. Or, bike a new trail or bike path on your own. Young or older: don’t forget your bike helmet.

  • Hiking. There are more than 50 miles of trails in Lake County alone. Join the annual “Hike Lake County” program and earn rewards for hiking as many as you can.

  • Nature Walk. Take the kids to a forest preserve or trail for an interesting nature walk and an introduction to all sorts of wildlife. Be on the lookout for birds and animals you don’t see in your backyard, such as white egrets, blue herons, foxes and a multitude of creatures that love the untamed outdoors. Closer to home, an evening stroll through your neighborhood is a no-cost, relaxing way to end a summer day. Make it a daily habit. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes with absorbent cotton socks and don’t forget bug repellant in the woods.

  • Pool Fun. The pool is a cool exercise spot for all ages. Walking back and forth in the pool is a great workout for older adults. The water provides resistance to build strength, yet is easy on the joints. If you’re younger and stronger, swim lengths or race your friends to boost the fitness factor.

  • Canoeing. Lake County has more than 75 lakes and rivers, with even more in surrounding areas. Canoeing builds upper body strength, but remember to always wear a life-preserver jacket when you’re in the lake or river.

  • Tennis and golf. These classics are favorites for all ages. Whether you’re heading to the courts or links, don’t forget the sunscreen and water.