When summer hits, many of us seek shelter inside anywhere possible and to stay as cool as can be. And that often includes exercising. But is that the healthiest avenue?
In some cases, it certainly is. For those who are elderly or with breathing issues, the summer weather brings high levels of heat, and worse, humidity. Both of these are deleterious to the health of at-risk populations like those mentioned above, and staying indoors to exercise is highly recommended by physicians.
The same goes with your pets, especially dogs. Dogs love to play and run outside and have fun, but there are plenty of harmful changes to the environment during the 'dog days of summer'. One of which is paw-pad health. If you're going on a morning run with your dog and it is going to be a hot day, try to do so before the sun begins to hit the pavement. And to test out whether the ground would be safe for your dog to have extended contact on, go barefoot on your drvieway or sidewalk. If you're feet are getting very warm or you have to jump on the grass and cool them off, that's what your dog is feeling too. They may look silly, but dog boots are a growing commodity for concious owners who realize that years of exposure to the elements has an effect on the health of those paws, whether it be heat of the pavement, rocks, or other elements.
Another point of pet health is summer-related diseases. With the full growth of summer vegetation at hand and the love of hiking or camping by many, there are the inherent risks of mosquitos, ticks, and other insects that can affect your pet's health. It is suggested to provide yourself and your canine companion a variety of tools at your disposal to repel insects, and to check one's self for any unusual bites and insects that may still be attached to you or your pet. A local pharmacy or grocery store will often provide a variety of repellants for human use (and specifically for wooded areas) as well as pet supply stores for collars or treatments to repel bugs from them as well.
And when the days are simply too hot and there is a high ozone risk or little access to hydration for you or your pet, it's best just to find some indoor fun or stay close to home. Running along the back yard, tug of war, fetch, and even doing in place exercises will be effective for both you and your pet. And when you cannot take your pet with you, the gym is always a practical alternative to outdoor fitness.
But working out outside has its benefits too.
According to an article written in the Huffington Post, "The most recent study (of outdoor exercise) polled nearly 2,000 active participants in the 2008 Scottish Health Survey and found that outdoor physical activity had a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym. The researchers, from Glasgow University, found that walking, running, biking and other outdoor activities through green space lowered stress..." So while research on this issue is limited in scope, it is never too difficult to do a personal comparison.
If the week permits you to do so, try one day of active weight lifting and cardio inside a gym, and then another day (with a period of rest for your body from the first workout day) where you do alternative muscle exercises and then engage in a cardio exercise outside of the house. From there analyze your personal results and physical results from both days. You may very well find at the end of your outdoor workout you feel you've accomplished more than doing the same work inside. And attitude is half the battle in the war of physical fitness.
So stay positive and stay fit everyone! And most of all, stay healthy!