While the warmer weather typically inspires feelings of a fresh start on health and wellness, somehow this summer seems to do so more than ever.
The good news: No fancy equipment or gym memberships are needed. The consensus this year is to take advantage of what Mother Nature has to offer.
Health and wellness coach Honey Bronson said take advantage of the great outdoors for your workout. "I really encourage people to get outdoors all year long because it's so good for your mental health and your physical health," she said. "But even if you have been exercising inside, spring's the time to start thinking about moving your exercise outside. There are so many benefits to being outside. It's good for your mental health in that it boosts your mood. It also boosts your immunity. Spring is just such a great time to reorganize your exercise and to start again if you've kind of given it up."
As far as our diets go, Bronson notes that most of us start to eat differently in the summer. "There's so much more variety of fruits and vegetables," she said. "It's a wonderful way to get more color in your diet. Summer is also a great time to go to farmer's markets or even start to your own garden."
Karen Goodman Minter-a certified yoga instructor who also used to own her own personal training company-said that her mindset about exercise has changed a lot since the pandemic. "My perspective about exercise has shifted to one of wellness, and I think that that was only reinforced during the pandemic," she said. "Pre-pandemic, I had a health club membership. I was doing classes and using exercise equipment. And for safety reasons, I put my health club membership on hold and began walking. Really, walking became my exercise of choice. And I feel that this is something that I will continue with even as restrictions ease. It is just a great option to not only get in shape and to improve your wellness, but it also offers a lot of opportunities to connect with others while you're doing it."
Ron Krit pulls triple duty as senior director of endowment for JUF in addition to working as a personal trainer and as a fitness writer. He is a big advocate of not overthinking exercise. "A lot of people search for 'I need a fat burner work out.' Or 'I need this.'" Krit's advice? "Just start moving and do it slowly. If you're already exercising, look for some new movements you don't do regularly. Whether it's on YouTube or seeking the help of a professional via Zoom, try something new."
Krit advises to ease into exercising. "If you haven't been exercising in while, start off with 20 minutes of walking, or if there are steps in your house, go up and down the steps a few times. Just try to find a day and time where you can make it a habit," he said.
Of course, all the working out in the world will not completely counter poor eating practices. Licensed dietician/nutritionist Sheryl Gray's first recommendation is to begin by reducing added sugars and simply paying more attention to the labels. The other big recommendation is to keep your immune system healthy. "A lot of disease stems from our gut health," she said. "I've been recommending that people make sure to get probiotics." The best way to do that is through eating yogurt and fermented foods. Or if all else fails, take a probiotic supplement once a day.
Gray is a big advocate of movement throughout the day. "We want to try and get the metabolism going," she said. "The 30 minutes or so that we formally do is wonderful for all different reasons, but it's a tiny part of our calorie burning. It's what we do the rest of the day that's important."
To learn more from the experts, visit honeybonsonhealthcoach.com; fitwwithkrit.com; and professionalnutritionservices.com.
Rochelle Newman Rubinoff is a freelance writer living in the northern suburbs of Chicago.