How to keep fit while you are away from the gym?
There is no better motivation for keeping or even starting a physical exercise program than summertime! Plenty of time of well-deserved leisure for you is just one of the ways to motivate yourself to exercise during your holidays. If you are already following a routine of exercise and you do not want to lose all the benefits of regular exercise, you may try to keep it as often as you can, but if you are planning on changing your lifestyle and engaging in a physical exercise program, it is important to be aware of your present physical condition and to not exceed your limits.
How much exercise is needed? Current guidelines recommend working your body for at least 30 min most days of the week, either continuously or in bouts of at least 10 minutes. This can help prevent and manage diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, depression and many others. Another pattern of exercise, which is the most effective in improving cardiovascular fitness leading to dramatic improvements in a short period of time, involves varying the exercise intensity. Combining a series of low to high-intensity exercise workouts interspersed with rest or relief periods within a single bout of exercise is termed interval training. (We’ve previously addressed some common questions about interval training.)
Exercise safely and effectively
Remember that it is your summer vacation, which should mean a lot of fun and relaxation too. So, you are not supposed to run a race if you need to refuel your body and mind with energy. Why not to go for a morning walk or jog! It is important to respect your body limits and never go over them!
If you are unsure of how hard you feel you are working, you can try the “talk test”. During an aerobic exercise session, one should be able to carry on a somewhat stilted conversation. If you are gasping for air and unable to talk, you are most likely working at or beyond your limit. However, if you can sing the entire “Ja, vi elsker dette landet” you are probably not exerting much effort!
If it is easier for you to measure your physical activity intensity level using numbers from 0 to 10, you can also use the well-known Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE), which is based on the physical sensations you may experience during physical activity. These feelings should reflect how heavy and strenuous the exercise feels to you, combining all sensations and feelings of physical stress, effort, and fatigue.
The RPE scale runs from 0 to 10. Zero expresses how you feel when sitting in a chair. The break between RPE of 4 and 5 is known as the “talk test”, already mentioned above, where you are still able to talk, but it is now a little challenging. The second marker between RPE of 6 and 7 is where talking becomes very difficult and you are able to say only couple words at a time; RPE 10 is how you feel at the end of an exercise stress test or after a very difficult activity. When using the RPE, remember to include feelings of shortness of breath, as well as how tired you feel in your legs and overall.
In most cases, you should exercise at a level that feels 3 to 4. If you are doing interval training, you want your recovery to be around a 4-5 and your intensity blasts to be at around 8-9. For longer, slower workouts, keep your RPE at level 5 or lower.
Keep focus on eating healthy!
No amount of walking or jogging will help the body if you do not eat properly or have greater affection for cigarettes and alcohol! Many people put on weight during the holidays, so do not forget to keep track of what you eat. With so many opportunities to eat and drink during the summer holiday make sure that the occasional treat is an exception, not the rule.
You can for example use fruits as a snack instead of jumping straight to ice cream and other high fat snacks. Also remember that water is the best drink, so please indulge in it this summer. But, above all have fun! Summer holidays are not about exercise or food – they are about spending quality time with those you love. Just remember that this need not be mutually exclusive with an active and healthy lifestyle!
Written by Natale Rolim, Researcher at CERG.