poolSix Enjoyable Ways to Get Fit Outdoors!
Experts offer some great tips to have fun and shape up outdoors.

The winters are often brutal and long in many parts of the country. Once the weather breaks, many people prefer to take in the heat and be outdoors. According to WebMd, "Pleasant temperatures and the visual interest of your surroundings can not only motivate you to exercise, but help you enjoy it more."

  • Walking - "It's easy on the joints, you don't need a lot of fancy equipment, and you can burn calories, even though it's a more modest amount compared to some other activities," states Robyn Stuhr, exercise physiologist and director of the Women's Sports Medicine Center at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery.
  • Jogging/Running -  For someone trying to shred pounds, jogging can burn calories more quickly than walking. Because running does place more stress on the joints, however, it's important to start slowly. According to WebMD, "The general rule is to increase your time or distance by no more than 10% each week."
  • Swimming - Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular conditioner that is actually very easy on the joints. Swimming is ideal for people who have joint or muscle problems. According to WebMD, "The weightlessness of the water helps them exercise pain-free." Swimming is also a fun and refreshing activity for many in the milder months.
  • Cycling - Bicycling is a fantastic cardiovascular activity. To avoid placing too much stress on the knees or back, it's important to ensure a bike is fitted properly. "I recommend finding a bike shop or a demo program where you can try a bike out," states Tonya Laffey, a professional mountain biker and founder of MTB Chick Racing. "I would highly recommend getting a fit kit, which measures you for the bike." Cycling is a great way for people to explore different neighborhoods, trails, bike paths and parks.
  • Hiking - Hiking provides a relaxing environment that can help to build cardio endurance. Hikers should prepare and become familiar with the area. "A beginner should do a little research and find short hikes that offer good scenery without too much difficulty or special equipment," says Sheri McGregor, author of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Diego. A regional hiking book with area trails is a good investment for hikers to understand potential dangers in the area, water availability, changing temperatures and more.
  • Kayaking - For those who love the water, kayaking can be an enjoyable and scenic way to exercise. It is recommended that beginners take a class or clinic in a pool or other flat-water location. "You'll learn how to roll the kayak, paddling technique, read the river and what to do for problems like getting pinned against rocks," says John Benson, director of the Sewanee Outing Program at Sewanee, the University of the South, in Tennessee.

Citations

Nelson, Jennifer. "6 Great Ways to Get Fit Outdoors." WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature. Web.

Eight Drought-Defying Secrets for Gardens
There are ways to keep a garden looking great...even in situations of drought.

curb appeal

Better Homes and Gardens shares helpful tips to keep a garden looking great, even in unwanted periods of extended drought.

1.) Adjust maintenance - Minimize fertilizing during dry spells, as fertilizer salts can actually dehydrate the roots of plants.

2.) Dig rocks - When placed strategically, rocks can assist in directing water. By slowing it down, the water can soak into the ground and be more available for plants. 

3.) Use gray water - Gray water should not be confused with sewage. Gray water is "gently used" household water that can be collected by saving dishwater, filling a bucket when waiting for the shower temperature to run warm, etc. According to Better Homes and Gardens, "Check local codes for restrictions on using gray water."

4.) Water wisely - It's best to water a garden in the early morning hours while the sun is low. The way in which plants are watered is also an important factor. The most efficient and simplistic watering methods are by using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system.  

5.) Wait to plant until autumn - This is particularly good when caring for permanent plants like perennials, trees and shrubs. Because temperatures are typically cooler, water requirements will be less. "While top growth slows, roots will be developing and getting established until the coldest weather comes. Plants will also benefit from winter snowfall or rains," according to Better Homes and Gardens.

6.) Amend and mulch - Better Homes and Gardens goes on to say, "Dig compost into your soil to help hold moisture and encourage healthy root growth, then mulch the beds with an organic material such as wood chips." Mulch minimizes the evaporation of ground moisture and assists in maintaining lower soil temperatures.

7.) Collect rainwater - If one inch of rain falls onto a 1200-square-foot roof, this can create up to more than 748 gallons of fresh water for plants.

8.) Choose heat-loving plants - It's best to select plants that enjoy sunny and hot conditions!

Citations

Skeers, Timothy. 8 Drought-Defying Garden Secrets. Better Homes and Gardens. Web.

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