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Great Summer Workouts

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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD

Ah, summer! The great outdoors beckons with warm weather and longer days. Make the most of the season by turning your tired indoor fitness routine into creative outdoor workouts wherever you live or vacation.

To get started, WebMD asked exercise physiologists to share their summer workout tips. Whether you're at the lake, in the mountains, on the beach, or at the pool, here's how to stay fit this summer.

Fitness at the Lake

Taking the family to the lake this summer? Great. Water is a perfect place to exercise in the heat and humidity of summer. Swimming is an obvious choice, says Patrick Ayres, MS, exercise physiologist at Lifestyle Management in Bloomington, Minn.

"Swimming or treading water is a great way to work the cardiovascular system," he says. "Lots of people go to the lake and get motor boats," he says. "If you are boating, go out to an area, stop the boat and anchor, and do some swimming."

Don't get caught up in the idea that the exercise has to be a consistent 30 minutes, says Ayres. "Recreational activities can also be exercise," he says, and doing something is better than nothing. Ten minutes or so a few times throughout the day will add up.

Kelli Calabrese, MS, an exercise physiologist, fitness author, and owner of Calabrese Consulting in Long Valley, N.J., recommends canoeing for an all-over body workout. Many lakeside facilities offer rentals and lessons, she says.

If you're unsure of your ability or if it's been a while since you've been in a canoe, Calabrese advises taking lessons. Just learning will be a workout in itself.

"It's great for the shoulders," she says, "but it's also great core, great obliques, and great back work." In addition, she says, the legs work as stabilizers.

Be conscious of muscle balance, she says. Don't always turn the canoe in the same direction. If you're circling the lake, reverse the circle. Row on alternate sides of the boat, or use a longer, double-sided paddle, which makes balancing even easier.

And enjoy the ride. "It's different, it's fun and it's a great way to see the lake, from a canoe," says Calabrese. "It feels good just to be out in nature and listen to the sounds of the water."

If you have no access to a canoe or boat, you have other options. Jesse Pittsley, exercise physiologist and program director for the exercise science department at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, knows the lake scene well.

"My parents live on a lake," he says. "We have a rocky beach by my parents' dock. We go out waist deep and grab around for rocks at the bottom of the lake and see if we can throw them to the shore."

This friendly family competition becomes a workout for the shoulders and abdominals (particularly the obliques). Before you know it, you're exercising and burning calories.

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