9 Hot and Healthy Summertime Habits
Summer Break Doesn’t Have to Mean a Break from Training
Summer break is here, but that doesn’t mean a break from the healthy habits you’ve been practicing in your daily life as part of your Taekwondo training. As a martial artist, you should stay focused on fueling your body with the right nutrients and maintain an exercise regimen that keeps you at the top of your game.
But summer brings with it vacations, high temperatures and other challenges that may force your family to adjust their regular routine. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead so that you keep up with your training and overall well-being. To continue to maximize your performance while beating the heat, here are nine hot and healthy summertime habits!
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Your body needs fuel just to get through the demands of an average day, let alone a day of ATA training! Studies show a range of health benefits to be gained from the morning meal. If you’re trying to stay lean and make yourself more agile on the mat, breakfast actually helps people keep the pounds off. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that people who skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to be obese while an American Heart Association study shows breakfast eaters are more likely to have good blood sugar and are less likely to be hungry later in the day. Other potential breakfast benefits (especially if the food choices include eggs, oatmeal and coffee) include being less tired during the day, better cholesterol levels, few calories consumed during the day and better short-term memory.
Block the Sun
A bad sunburn can make you really uncomfortable and could keep you out of Taekwondo class, so put on the sunscreen! Find the right SPF rating for you and make sure you reapply frequently, especially after swimming or training. With the ozone layer depleting, sunscreen helps shield you from harmful rays; decrease chances of skin cancer; prevent facial brown spots or discolorations; reduce the appearance of facial veins and blotchiness and it prevents or slows the aging effects of sun exposure. So arm yourself with hats, sunscreen and beach umbrellas to block that stun, so that you can keep working on outer-forearm blocks in class!
Exercise Your Mind
An agile mind is just as important as an agile body. Whether you’re sparring or working on your jahng bong form, you need to be able to make quick decisions and react properly, so even though school is out or you’re spending your free time lounging by the pool, there is no reason to stop exercising the muscle between your ears. Read, work a puzzle or complete some other brainteaser. Challenge your mind by taking in an art show or documentary, or just engage in a lively (but friendly) debate with a fellow student. Mental sharpness can give you just the edge you need to master your next match, so make sure you leave yourself some think time during the months.
Staying hydrated is one of the easiest, and most overlooked, ways to help stay healthy. You need to replenish fluids and help replace electrolytes lost to exercise. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty—by then you’re already mildly dehydrated—pre-hydration is just as important as rehydration. According to sources like WebMD.com, water in place of sugary drinks can be filling without the calories while energizing muscles, keeping bodily functions regular, helping the kidneys and keeping your skin looking healthy. Many times children forget to grab a drink, so parents should remind them several times a day.
Stay Active in Your Training
A little rest and relaxation after a tough winter is good, but it is easy to get off track with all the summer activities out there. So. remember to stick to your ATA Martial Arts goals! Ask your instructor about special seminars or summer camps that may be on your school’s summer calendar. Devise a schedule and keep to it, and don’t let a change of location like a family vacation, keep you from working on your Taekwondo skills. Practice your form on the beach or work on a side kick as you jump off the diving board Online option, can also provide innovative programs and challenges with the added convenience of being near a computer or your smartphone.
Beat the Heat
There is no need to go for a daily run at high noon during the heat wave; adjust your training program to stay out the peak temperatures. Run early in the morning or use a treadmill inside; have a hydration plan for your workout; wear fair colored, lightweight, breathable clothing; work a swim into your training program and, if you must work out in the heat, ease into it with light exercise two or three times a week for three or four weeks to acclimate.
Know the Signs
Exercise in hot, humid weather can quickly lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. If all preventative measures fail, it is important to know the warning signs and to stop exercising immediately. If you experience any of the following, get off your feet and replenish your fluids: headache, heavy sweating, cold or moist skin or chills, dizziness or fainting, weak or rapid pulse, muscle cramps, fast or shallow breathing, nausea or vomiting. Listen to your body and make smart choices to avoid these dangerous symptoms.
A cheeseburger can be tasty once in a while but don’t overdo the fatty foods that can slow you down and affect your performance on the mat. At your family’s summer barbeque, use grilled chicken or turkey burgers to keep it lighter. Instead of fries or potato salad, add color to your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. You could even start a small garden in your community to grow healthier foods while also interacting with your friends and neighbors. Maintaining a healthier diet doesn’t mean giving up the good stuff. Just look for nutrient rich foods like whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds.
Everything is more fun with a friend! Buddy up to motivate one another to stick to your exercise or Taekwondo routine and make healthy choices this summer. Working out together may be safer and more fun with your friend or family member. Encourage each other to be the best you that you can be!
Author: Todd Traub | Originally published in Vol. 21 no. 2 of the ATA World Magazine.