If you’re the type to find exercising outdoors entirely too grueling during the hot and humid summer months, take advantage of a comparatively cool spring on Long Island this year to move your routine into the fresh air.
During spring, lower pollen levels and less-humid air makes breathing easier during outdoor fitness activities. Even though the possibility is not completely eliminated, there is also less of a chance of suffering a heat-related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and critical heat stroke. While proper hydration is still critical, the body will have less of a challenge cooling itself during the colder months.
“The [cooler months] are an excellent time to bring your workouts to the great outdoors,” said Robert Bristol, a certified athletic trainer and assistant athletic trainer at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. “[People] may find it easier to push themselves due to the decreased probability of heat-related [ailments] that impair performance. However, hydration is a must as you can still succumb to the effects of dehydration if you don't properly prepare yourself.”
Here’s what some of Long Island’s athletes and exercise specialists had to say about seasonal exercise activities:
Jogging and biking
Jogging and biking are great ways to achieve quality aerobic workouts and we’re lucky Long Island hosts a list of outdoor trails. In particular, Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon and Hempstead Lake State Park in West Hempstead both offer great fitness facilities for aerobic buffs. These parks — along with many of Long Island’s state parks — offer hiking trails with spectacular views for those who are interested in a more relaxed, explorative challenge. Cold Spring Harbor State Park boasts 40 acres of hilly terrain, which is sure to intrigue anyone interested in a day of both fitness and fun.
“And if you live farther east, try biking to Wildwood State Park in Wading River,” said Ironman Triathlon World Championship finisher Sheila Isaacs of Shoreham, who, at age 67, was the first known athlete to complete a triathlon in all 50 states. “It’s a great place to run — on the trails or the beach. It’s beautiful.”
While Long Island's waterways still remain cool temperature-wise, long-distance and sprint swimming at the beaches can be appropriately replaced with public indoor pool facilities, such as the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow and Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. Swimming, being one of the most effective full-body exercises, has an extremely positive impact on cardiovascular performance when it’s done on a regular basis.
“Swimming not only increases the size of the heart's chambers, but also the thickness of its walls,” said Lisa Hiller, an exercise physiologist and U.S. Masters Swimming coach at Excel Swimming in Garden City. “This powerful combination increases the amount of blood that your heart pumps per beat. The more a person incorporates swimming into their workouts, the lower their resting heart rate will become and it will be easier to recover from a hard workout.”
As the days continue to get longer but before the summer heat sets in, take advantage of this spectacular time of year by adding an outdoor fitness training ingredient into your exercise routines.
And discover Long Island. The healthy way.
Award-winning journalist Brian T. Dessart, an FDNY firefighter, is a nationally accredited Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a New York State Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician. He can be reached by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @briandessart