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Fuel Up for Fresh Air Fitness

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Fuel Up for Fresh Air Fitness

Summer is a great time to get outdoors for some fresh air and fun fitness. Loads of sunshine, longer days and warmer temps mean more opportunities for the whole family to get moving. Whether it’s jumping on some paddleboards at the lake, cooling off at the community pool or gearing up for a long hike or bike ride, outside is the place to be.

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But warmer weather can also zap your energy. So it’s important to keep some healthy snacks on hand and stay well-hydrated.

Ideally, you want to fuel up about two hours before your activity. Choose healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Stay away from saturated fats and don’t overdo it on the protein – these types of foods digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles. Save the protein for after your workout, when it will help you repair and build muscle.

Keep cool as you fuel with healthy chilled snacks:

  • Homemade popsicles made from 100% fruit juice
  • Fresh and frozen fruit smoothies
  • Chilled or frozen fruit like grapes, bananas, watermelon and strawberries
  • Cold salads loaded with vegetables, beans, legumes and tuna or salmon
  • Cold soups like gazpacho or melon
  • Crisp, chilled raw veggies like cucumber, carrot, bell pepper or celery with a light, yogurt-based dip

It’s also smart to start drinking water before you head outdoors. If you wait until you’re already hot and sweating, you’ll be playing catch up. Stay hydrated once you’re outdoors with small, frequent sips of cool water. It will help your heart and muscles work more efficiently. If you feel thirsty, cramp up or get a headache, you may already be dehydrated.

Skip the sugary sports drinks. Unless you’re some kind of ultra-athlete, water will do the trick. Try squeezing some lemon in your water. It will help you replenish electrolytes and rehydrate without the added sugars and calories. Many fruits and vegetables contain a good amount of water, so snacking on them can help, too. And watch the caffeinated and alcoholic beverages – they shouldn’t take the place of water, especially if you’re exercising.

Find delicious, healthy recipes for snacks, drinks, smoothies and more at heart.org/recipes.

For a refreshing change from sugary drinks, try one of these summer thirst-quenchers:

  • Cold sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice or slices of cucumber or orange
  • Iced unsweetened green tea with sprigs of fresh mint or basil
  • Chilled unsweetened hibiscus tea with muddled frozen berries

What you eat and drink can help make your fresh air fitness activities more enjoyable by helping you stay cool and energized. Get more tips on staying active in warm weather.