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Tips to keep you fit over summer vacation

It’s summer once again. It’s the season to relax, release the stress from the semester and enjoy the hot and humid air. The last thing you probably want to do is move in any way, unless it’s doing a keg stand. But do not give up the whole idea of physical activity just yet. Below are some fun exercise tips you can practice during the hot summer.
Patricia Dietz, assistant strength and conditioning coach at DePaul University, provided some tips on warming up before you begin exercising.

“Proper warm up prior to exercise should warm your muscles up through a range of motion. You should keep the first few minutes at a moderate intensity to give your muscles time to warm up.  Try to use a static stretch or a stretch you hold for at least 15 -20 seconds. This will prevent injuries and minimize soreness,” Dietz said.

Swimming will keep you cool and will work all parts of your muscles. The top three strokes that work your entire body are breaststroke, backstroke and crawl stroke. With the breaststroke, the shoulders must be kept in line with the water, while arms and legs must be pushed forward together and brought back under the surface of the water. This exercise involves frog-kicking alternates with a simultaneous movement of the arms. The backstroke requires alternate over-the-head arm strokes and a flutter kick, while remaining on your back. The crawl stroke is the most basic swim. Using crawling motions with the arms, you kick your legs to propel through the water. Alternate between these swim strokes for 15 laps across the pool.

You may wonder how to exercise without stepping into water, because let’s face it, not all of us can swim. If you are someone who only knows how to “dog paddle,” don’t worry. There are plenty more activities you can do, inside and outside of the house. Running along a beach or lake is another great idea. If you live in an urban area, run on grass or dirt trails, as these surfaces put the least amount of strain on your joints. According to Fitness Magazine, you should turn the corner and head down the block instead of stopping at red lights. Run before or after rush hour when the air is clear and traffic is less heavy.

You must be very cautious with your heart rate while running, as it can increase during the hottest time of day (10 a.m. through 4 p.m.). Monitoring your heart rate can let you know if you should pick up the pace, slow it down, or stay right where you are. Place your index and middle fingers on the inside of your wrist, locate your artery and press lightly. Start counting your heartbeat for thirty seconds. Multiply the number of beats you counted by two to find your heart rate number. You can also purchase a heart rate monitor at Kmart for $30. Make sure to continue to stay hydrated throughout the day, as this can affect your heart rate as well. The best type of workout routine you can do with this exercise is running in intervals. Walk briskly for five minutes, then pick up the pace to a steady jog for 10 minutes, sprint for 10 minutes and then start from the beginning again. Do this for 30 minutes. This will work your hamstrings, calves and gluteus muscle. If you want to take the easier route of exercising but still get a full body workout, spend the day hiking or walking your dog.

If you prefer to stay in an air-conditioned room while breaking a sweat, you might want to consider purchasing free weights and start strength-training. Dietz suggests a beginner should start with lower weights and focus on keeping form and control. If free weights are unavailable, try doing these routines from Glamour magazine with a couple of water bottles or a can of soup in each hand.

Begin with the squat and shoulder press exercise. Stand with feet hip-width apart holding the weights in each hand, arms bent, palms facing in. Bend knees and squat, then stand and press arms straight up over shoulders. Do eight to 12 repetitions. This exercise works your butt, arms and thighs.

Next, try the standing lift, which works your oblique muscles, back and shoulders. Stand with your left foot in front of the right, holding one weight with both hands, arms extended so weight is by right hip. Rotate arms up and across, pause, and then return to start. Make sure not to turn your torso as you are doing this. Do eight to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

By now, you should feel a change in your body from your triceps to your thighs. If you want to get even more out of your workout, you may want to consider purchasing a yoga mat and/or an exercise ball. Yoga mats are sold at Target for only $20, a good price for the poor college student. Exercise balls are sold at an even cheaper price of $8 at Wal-Mart. You can do numerous exercises with this equipment, such as sit-ups or relaxing stretches. Try maximizing the intensity by doing twenty push-ups or a side plank.

A side plank requires you to lie on your back with legs extended, hips and feet stacked. Prop yourself up on your right forearm, elbow under your shoulder and place left hand on your waist. Slowly lift hips off the floor as high as you can and hold for 15 to 30 seconds, belly button pulled in toward spine. Lower to start, switch sides and repeat.

These exercises are sure to change the way you look and feel in a short amount of time. As long as you continue to keep fit each week and stay hydrated, you can start saying goodbye to the “freshman 15” and start saying hello to the new you.

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