It’s summer, and most shopping apps have already sent out mailers and texts with information on discounts on workout wear and gear for the season. However, if you didn’t go out running when the weather was pleasant, then you are unlikely to do so when the temperatures outside are hovering around 40 degrees Celsius! So, before you go buy new workout apparel or gear, here’s a list of sporty summer workout options that you might take up while beating the heat and staying cool while staying in shape.
Swimming and other water workouts
As the mercury soars, it is our natural instinct to run to water. Whether you can swim or not, exercise science suggests that there are workouts, such as hydrotherapy and aqua workouts, that can be done in the pool.
Swimming remains one of the best ways to be active, says Nisha Millet, former Olympian and swimming coach at Life of Tri, a training centre for triathletes. “Swimming is a full body workout and as you push harder to either increase speed or distance or learn a new stroke it gets challenging enough to keep you from getting bored. Even though you don’t sweat as much in the pool, you burn plenty of calories and get all the benefits of exercise without impact on your joints and body. Swimming also boosts the mood,” she says. Millet also runs the Nisha Millet Swimming Academy in Bengaluru. Her youngest charge started at six months, while the oldest is 80.
Of late, there has been a rise in demand for hydrotherapy and aqua workouts. Millet says that the buoyancy of water reduces the impact of all workouts, including running, squatting or jumping, while the resistance provided by water makes the workouts a lot more intense and, hence, effective. This is a great option for anyone recovering from injuries or has issues related to ageing.
As for concerns about covid-19, the US’s Centre for Disease Control says it “is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds, or other treated aquatic venues.” The chlorine in the water kills almost all virus, says Millet, adding one needs to be careful in changing rooms and practice social distancing and also avoid crowding in pools. The Indian government allowed pools to be open to all in late January.
Indoor cycling and spinning
Cycling is another low-impact endurance workout that can be pursued despite the searing heat. Since cycling is much faster than running, you are always riding into a breeze that helps you cool down a bit, says Sridhar Venkatraman, ex-commodities trader and a triathlon coach at Life of Tri. “Start at the crack of dawn, get a couple of hours on the saddle and you can be back home before it gets too hot,” he adds..
However, Venkatraman suggests investing in a trainer to attach to your bike and move your workout indoors. “If you are training seriously for an event, it is the best option. A basic trainer costs about ₹15,000, while a smart trainer costs about double that amount. On the smart trainer you could replicate any course right down to the elevation and the trainer adjusts the resistance accordingly. The added advantages are you do it in the safety of your home, at a time of your convenience and can control the temperate and breeze through your air conditioner and fan. You won’t even have to miss any live games or catch up your series as well,” he says.
Spinning has the same benefits as cycling and with a host of online workouts from Peloton, Les Mills and others available online, you could pull your old exercise bike out of the storage and get moving.
This year climbing makes its debut as an Olympic sport. The sport’s popularity is growing in India with specialised climbing gyms opening up in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi and other big cities. Climbing could be a great new fitness routine to try out as it is not only a physical challenge but a mental one too.
From your fingers all the way to your toes, each and every part of your body is involved in climbing, making it a full body workout, says Vrinda Bhageria, climbing coach and co-founder of Boulder Box, a climbing gym in Delhi. “Contrary to popular belief that it is predominantly an upper body workout or it is a sport for those with strong upper bodies, climbing is a total exercise that works everything from your muscles to your brain. It also improves your balance, coordination and agility and makes you more aware of your entire body as climbing requires the use of all four limbs and timely weight transfer from one part of the body to another,” explains Bhageria.
Climbing involves problem-solving, since a climber has to constantly figure out the most efficient and successful route from point A to B. It also helps overcome the fear of heights as well as the fear of falling. Since climbers do most of the work at a height, they quickly learn to stay calm and improve their focus, Bhageria adds.
Another sport that would make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics is surfing, which is also experiencing a surge in popularity in India at the moment. Once a rare sport popular among a small group in Visakhapatnam, it has spread far and wide across India and now most beaches with good waves across the country offer surfing lessons. Some of India’s top surfing spots are at Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Kovalam, Varkala, Manipal and Mangalore, which makes this workout accessible all summer long for only those who live around these places.
One of the prerequisites of surfing is that you know swimming. Surfing is all about balance, coordination and timing, not unlike mastering a superfast skateboard on an extremely slippery surface. It also requires a lot of patience as you have to not only wait for the right waves but also wait for your turn to ride a wave if you are in the water with others. And finally, what makes surfing a rigorous workout is the fact that you have to use your arms and upper body as a motor to take yourself and the surfboard to the point break. Once the perfect wave comes, you need to paddle even faster with your arms so that you catch the wave and then perform a very fast burpee on the board in order to ride it. Even an easy 20-minute session is capable of leaving you very sore, which would explain why all surfers are so chiseled.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.