We are definitely in the dog days of summer and the heat and humidity seem to be sucking the life out of everyone. Personally, I have been able to maintain my normal schedule but accomplishing any more seems daunting at best. On top of the monsoon season, we are gearing up for the start of school and even after many years readying my daughter, I still can't get used to school starting at the beginning of August. The challenges of life remind me why health and fitness are so important. Research shows that people that exercise are better able to handle the demands of working, parenting and living in our busy world. www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/upshot/why-you-should-exercise-no-not-to-lose-weight.html
It's easy to let yourself off the hook, especially if you're an outdoor exerciser, but you can still get it done even if you have to shorten your outdoor routine.
I get this cute little pug out for his mile walk every morning, adapting to the weather and getting an earlier start. I also watch him closely and take it a bit slower because snub-nosed dogs, brachycephalic for my scientific friends, tend to have a tougher time regulating body temperature. Four days a week, I go for my own walk after I finish walking the dog. I'm a brisk walker but even my pace has slowed of late and I'm okay with that. This time of year and kind of weather isn't the best to test your limits, as evidenced by multiple heat related fatalities here in Arizona. Challenging yourself is an integral part of overload (the amount of load or resistance) and progression (the way you increase the load) that, along with specificity, are basic fitness training principles sometimes called the FITT principle. www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/subjects/pe/curriculum/fittprinciple.pdf
I had a conversation with a friend about working with trainers that have left her so sore, she never returned. I told her my fitness philosophy is to push not punish. I don't think you need to be so sore you can't sit down on the toilet or do your hair. I do think it's good if you feel your glutes and shoulders reminding you of the great workout you did but not preventing you from functional activities. I regularly ask participants to evaluate themselves using the rating of perceived exertion. RPE is a great way to assess your individual effort without an activity tracker, or stopping to check your pulse. The best part, in my opinion, is that you become attuned to your body signals and can tell when you are pushing too hard or not hard enough. Your perceptions are subjective, so days when you are not well-rested, fueled, dehydrated or stressed will seem harder to you, so you may not work as hard but you probably shouldn't. Basically your body is taking care of itself and you are listening. For a quick breakdown of RPE check this out: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/borg-scale/ For more detailed information please see: www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/perceivedexertion.pdf
I can't stress enough how important it is to listen to your body. It may sound new age-y but it's true. No one else lives in your body but you. You are responsible for the care and keeping of that body and that means knowing when to step up to challenge and when to accept setbacks and do what you can. As for me, I'm giving my newsletter a hiatus this month and focusing on self-care. Prioritizing my own fitness, spending time with family resting and readying are part of my personal prescription for life balance during the dog days of summer.
WOW: Want to learn more about health? Check out the great classes at Mesa Community College:www.mesacc.edu/schedule/search