But what if winter has left you feeling less than beach ready?
With only an hour of moderate exercise every day you will not only look and feel better, but can also lower your risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And what better way to get back in the game than with some outdoor activities that will help you tone and tighten your body, while enjoying the added bonus of fresh air and Vitamin D?
The trick to sticking with a new fitness schedule is to find activities you enjoy — not all of us are born runners, but cycling and rollerblading might turn out to be a perfect fit. Don't be afraid to try new things until you find what works best for you. Try to vary your workout so you include all major muscle groups.
Before you start on your outdoor adventures, remember to always use sun protection, wear proper protective gear and drink plenty of fluids. Dress in lightweight, loose fitting clothes to allow for sweat evaporation and choose light colours to avoid heat absorption. Also, try and stay out of the midday sun by exercising in the morning or evening, and if you are concerned about heat, humidity or smog, have a back-up activity in mind, whether it's going to the gym for the day, working out at home to a DVD, or walking laps at a local mall.
Here are five great activities to get you in shape for the summer:
Running is one of the simplest ways to fit exercise into your day — all you need are a pair of shoes and some motivation. It is a great way to strengthen your legs, toning calves, thighs and buttocks, and also improves cardiovascular health. The key to running is to start slow. Set realistic goals for yourself, and build up to longer distances. If you don't feel like you can go it alone, there are lots of places that offer beginner's running classes to keep you on track. Check out your local gym for a schedule of available running clinics, or visit The Running Room (www.runningroom.com) for a list of classes in your area.
Calories burned per hour running at 5 mph: 500
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Rollerblading is a fun and easy activity that offers many of the same benefits as running, but with less stress on your joints, ligaments and tendons. It's also a great way to improve balance and coordination, and the natural side-to-side movement works to tone and tighten your inner thighs. To push the aerobic benefits of rollerblading you can try skating uphill, and you can work arm and shoulder muscles by swinging your arms while you skate.
Calories burned per hour: 700
There's nothing quite like the feeling of freedom you get from biking, whether you're tackling local trails or cycling through urban streets. This eco-friendly way to explore your surroundings offers a great lower body workout, toning abs, buttocks, calves and thighs, while being easy on the joints. Start out the season by getting your bike properly tuned and road-worthy, then build confidence with short trips of 10 to15 minutes. Once you're comfortable, aim to cycle 3 days a week and increase aerobic benefits by adding distance and hills to your regular route.
Calories burned per hour: 500
Use the trail locator at www.tctrail.ca to map out bike trails near you.
With seemingly endless park trails and gorgeous green space, Canada is the perfect place to get fit and explore with a regular hiking routine. Proper shoes are key; you will need a pair that offer your feet the support and protection to tackle unpaved trails and uneven ground, and you will want to break them in thoroughly before tackling long distances — there's nothing worse than a hike cut short because of painful blisters! Start with short hikes in your local park to get used to the feeling of being off-trail, and bring a friend along for safety. Once you have built up your stamina, you'll be ready to take on longer treks working your abs, buttocks, thighs and calves.
Calories burned per hour: 350
Visit www.canadatrails.ca to explore hiking trails in your area.
Gardening is a great way to get some exercise, while working on a calm and creative project. Activities like weeding, digging, mowing and trimming will stretch your legs, back, arms and shoulders, and pushing wheelbarrows, shovelling and lifting bags of mulch will build up muscles and upper body strength. Remember to lift properly, using your legs, and vary your work to make sure that you give all your muscle groups proper attention.
Calories burned per hour: 200
*Calories burned based on 1 hour of work by 145lb woman
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