As spring fades and summer begins, many people head outdoors, where they spend time swimming, playing sports, and going for long walks on the beach. Whether it’s on vacation or on weekend getaways with the kids, people are generally much more active during the summer months, which is good for both the heart and spirit.
While all of this cardio has its health benefits, it doesn’t replace the many benefits of strength training. During the summer months, gyms are vacated while people head outdoors for exercise, but it’s just as important as ever to lift and tone during the warm months as the cold. Here are five reasons you should make the gym a part of your daily routine even through the warm months.
1. Muscle Burns Fat, Even While Resting
While cardio burns calories, a body’s metabolism has a large role in how food is converted to energy. Those who are larger or have a higher degree of muscle mass burn calorie even when they’re at rest. As a person ages, metabolism naturally slows down, leading to gradual weight gain. Muscle is a great way to counterbalance the body’s natural slowdown and the earlier a person starts, the easier it will be to maintain that muscle over time.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Long duration cardio does NOT increase metabolism; in fact, it can LOWER it!
2. Building Muscle Staves Off Bone Loss
As a person grows older, bone loss is inevitable, especially for women after menopause. This can lead bones to break more easily, feelings of fatigue and weakness, and reduced tolerance to physical activity. Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones, helping minimize natural bone loss and reducing the risk of injury. When a person lifts weights, it also builds strength and balance, which can help prevent falls.
3. Muscle Toning Improves Balance
Balance has benefits beyond preventing injury. It comes into play no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s carrying groceries or climbing a set of stairs. Through strength training, you can more easily accomplish these tasks even as you get older. Muscle toning also improves endurance during athletic activities, which will help you during those games of beach volleyball.
4. Prevent Diseases
Strength training has been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. By continuing your strength training year round, you’ll continue to reap the rewards of the hard work you put in during the cold winter months. A Tufts University study even found that participants in a strength training program were able to see a marked reduction in arthritis pain. In fact, the study found that the end result was better than that received from medications. Strength training can also improve a person’s mental health, reducing depression and improving sleep quality.
5. You’ll Look Great in a Bathing Suit
As important as all of the other benefits are, one of the biggest benefits to continue strength training in the summer is also the most superficial. You work hard all winter and spring to look great, so why slack off during the summer months? As the weather heats up, you’ll likely be wearing shorts, short-sleeved and sleeveless tops, and bathing suits. Continued time at the gym means your muscles will stay toned so that you can look great as you reveal more of your body than you have all year. You’ll impress friends and family at gatherings with your washboard abs and toned thighs and, as much as we don’t like to admit it, that’s what it’s all about.
Gyms tend to empty out at the time of year when it’s most important to continue a workout regime. By maintaining your regular fitness schedule, you’ll be able to continue to meet your fitness goals while remaining in top shape for all of the exciting summer activities you’ll be invited to enjoy.
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“Weight Loss.” Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories. N.p., 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 06 May 2014.
“Aging Changes in the Bones – Muscles – Joints: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 May 2014.
“Build Up Your Bones! | NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Winter 2012. Web. 09 May 2014.
“Why Strength Training?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 09 May 2014.