Everyone thinks they need a plan for summer fitness. Usually, it revolves around acquiring that mystical “summer beach body” – the toned and fit, (and weirdly, already tanned) body you see in magazines and commercials. People go about this exactly the same way all over the world. East some salad, cut out the rubbish for a bit, and go to a couple of fitness classes. This ‘all out’ effort will usually begin around 6 weeks before the departure date for the holiday. In bad news for the holiday ‘bod’ however, this effort tends to taper out between weeks 2 and 3 before collapsing by week 4 and never being spoken of again after week 5 (until the same time next year of course). By week 6 you’re doing exactly the same as you did before and you’ve caused yourself unnecessary stress in the run-up to your vacation.
Get Fit for Summer
In an earlier article, How to Keep Fit and Like It, I asked if you were ‘Spring Fit’. It contained a little checklist of things to ask yourself about the current state of your health. That article originated with a booklet printed in 1943! I’m going to move forward 7 years to 1950 to an article from Health and Strength magazine, which goes into a little more depth about what steps to take to obtain summer fitness. I’ll come back to the ins and outs of the article at the end.
Here’s a plan for SUMMER FITNESS
By DR. S. B. WHITEHEAD
With more abundant food and greater opportunities for outdoor activity and travel, this summer promises to be the best yet of the post-war years for enjoyable living. Why not make the most of it in a special drive to revitalize your whole being? All you have to do is to plan a sound routine to help your physical and mental equipment function at their best, and thus know the zest and vigor for self-expression that goes with superb fitness.
A plan for summer fitness need be neither irksome nor spartan if you go about it the right way. There’s fun in getting and keeping fit – to wake each morning with your body ticking over smoothly and harmoniously, and ready to go, and to serve you eagerly in the activities that make up your day. Such a plan consists of making the best use of the natural factors of human health when they are most readily available.
Most organisms grow most vigorously in summer-time. This is true of the human body. In the warmth of the season, body cells tend to renew and repair themselves more quickly. Organs function more easily. You have, or should have, more energy. And at the same time, sunshine, fresh air, foods, and the opportunities for outdoor activity are most freely abundant.
Here, then, is the plan.
Summer Fitness: Start with your diet.
It provides the raw material out of which you fashion your body and the many fluids and secretions—blood, enzymes, hormones, gastric juices, etc.—that run it. In summer, your diet should do two main things—keep you cool and well, and rebuild your physique in superlative form for the winter ahead.
To keep cool and well you need plenty of moisture and plenty of those food elements—vitamins, minerals and roughage—that keep the eliminative organs functioning aright. In brief, this means that you should get fruits, salads, and vegetables very often.
So use the fresh fruits as they come into season, citrus fruits and their juices, with Welgar Shredded Wheat, and a wide variety of saladings* every day. When you cook them, bake or steam vegetables, and have at least two kinds at a meal. Since your body needs less fuel and energy to keep it working in summer warmth, you can advantageously restrict your starchy foods, and sweet rich foods like cakes, pastries, fatty meats, fried foods, and heavy puddings without harm. In fact, if you are overweight, now is the best time to slim by missing such foods out of your diet.
(I had never heard the word saladings before, but apparently ‘salading’ simply means the vegetables or herbs to be used in a salad, with saladings being the plural!)
Marjorie Green, of Scunthorpe, has true health and fitness.
To rebuild your body and to renew its vital secretions, however, you cannot go short on proteins. The best summer proteins come in milk, cheese, eggs, and dairy foods. You also get quite a lot of first-class protein in leafy greens. After all, stock animals make their flesh from green herbage. What you do not want is too much acid-forming protein, and of the meats, it is wise to go slow on shellfish, fatty meats, pork, ham and the like in summer.
You can manage well with less fat of the refined kind. But fat in the form of top milk, cream, and ground nuts or olives is good. Combined with fruit or salads, such fats make up a laxative combination, and they also help to firm the tissues. Use in small amounts regularly. When you’ve planned for fresh fruit or vegetables, a protein dish, and a little fat in your summer meal, add just enough cereal, Hovis, bread and butter, to give a satisfying bulk.
And remember to drink more fluid in summer. Get an extra glass of water, fruit juice or milk in between each meal, and add just a wee pinch of salt.
Summer Fitness: Sun-bathe regularly.
Sunlight quickens life, and everybody needs it. But everyone has their own individual tolerance for it. The safest rule to follow is to sun your body just as long as it takes the skin tissues to flush slightly pink.
Summer Fitness: Spend 20 minutes a day exercising.
No matter what your holiday plans are or whether they will take you hiking, walking, cycling, boating or in some similar active pursuit, give 10 minutes each morning and night to exercises designed to make your body functionally fit. Exercise is not only for muscle-making and body-building. It is needed to keep the internal organs running sweetly and to keep the whole system in good trim and condition. Try out the following simple schedule:
- When you waken in bed, stretch your legs into the bottom corners, bend your arms in line with your shoulders, clench your fist, and inhale slowly and arch your body upwards on heels and shoulders*; hold breath for 30 seconds, relax and exhale. Repeat 5 times. (* I think they mean to say elbows – not shoulders, but you may be getting a different visual image to me!)
- Push the bedclothes off; now swing the left leg up slowly and take it to the right corner of the bed overhead, recover and lower slowly; then the right alternate 5 times; then raise both legs together, 5 times.
- Lie with feet together, arms straight up in front of you, bending at the waist, raise yourself up and forward to touch your toes with your hands; relax slow back, 5 times.
- Stand with feet apart, arms at shoulder level; slowly rotate your arms from the shoulders, describing circles with the finger tips; breathe in as the hands go forward and up; out as they go back and down; 12 times.
- Stand with feet apart, hands on hips, bend forward at the waist, now rotate as far as you can to the left; then to the right, back to center and straight up; repeat 6 times.
- Stand feet together, arms by sides, fists lightly clenched; bend at the knees, letting your body go straight down until fists touch the floor; straighten, and repeat 10 times.
- Lie flat on your tummy, hands on floor by your chest; press your body up in a straight line on hands and toes, jump feet up under your chest, knees going outside your arms, jump straight again. Repeat 5 times.
- Stand with feet apart, palms together overhead, bend as far as possible to the right, then to the left; repeat 10 times each way.
You can vary this schedule with leg-swinging, arm swimming strokes, lunging, and other movements that bring the long muscles of the body into play. After exercising, take a rough towel, and friction your body from head to foot. During the day, get a brisk walk of half an hour, and step out, breathing easily and fully.
Summer Fitness: Relax often.
If you keep to the main points of the plan already outlined, you will have little trouble in falling asleep easily and naturally. It is depth, not length, of slumber that matters, and once you get the trick of going to sleep the moment you are in bed, you will find that six hours a night in summer are sufficient to restore energy and alertness. But if you are wise, you will also learn to relax during the day. Don’t try to go all out all the time. The custom of the siesta in hot countries is a wise and healthful one. Copy it. Try 15-30 minutes rest after the midday meal, flat on your back. Finally, don’t forget mental relaxation. This summer, plan to do some of the things you have always wanted to do – a yachting holiday, a trip abroad, a cycle tour.
Looking forward to it, and enjoying it, will make your execution of this plan for summer fitness well worthwhile.
Summer Fitness: A Review.
Entertaining, no? Maybe a little funny in places too. Yet the key to a healthy lifestyle is right there in the above text:
- A basic, yet balanced diet
- 20 minutes of basic exercises
- Plenty of fresh air
- Plenty of rest.
Exercise need not be exhausting or feel like a chore. In fact, routines such as Walter Camps’ Daily Dozen and Radio Taiso were designed NOT be take a long time or be ‘irksome’ (fabulous word!). I’m not going to linger too long with the dietary advice in the article, but I know some people are curious about the diets of people in the 1940’s and 1950’s. I will simply add the following reminder that salt will not have been present in nearly as many food items as now – hence the need to add it manually.
Look Fit by Feeling great