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July 11, 2006 > This Summer, Be Smart about Exercise

This Summer, Be Smart about Exercise

by Washington Hospital

The song says, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” But, in today’s health conscious world, most of us see summer as the perfect time to rev up our activity level for a healthier life.   

“Exercise will keep you healthy, but you also need to take precautions to avoid getting hurt,” says David Bell, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of Washington Hospital. “Always use proper gear for the sport or exercise of your choice, including good shoes.”

Whether it’s hiking, cycling, swimming, golfing, horseback riding, working out at a par course or one of a myriad of other activities, being outdoors while you exercise can make it more enjoyable.

“The most important thing to be aware of when exercising outdoors is safety,” adds orthopedic surgeon John Jaureguito, M.D., who is also on the medical staff at Washington. “Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and always use sunscreen. This is especially important for children.”
To stay hydrated, adults should drink two cups of water about 15 minutes before starting and, then, about two cups after every 15 minutes of exercise. Kids should also drink plenty of water.
Before you exercise, warm up to prepare your body. Running in place, jumping jacks or light jogging will get blood flowing to muscles and joints. Then, do some stretches, using all the major muscle groups. Never bounce while stretching, and be sure to take slow, deep breaths.

Many adults with good intentions about exercise become weekend warriors who turn into wounded soldiers. Avoid overuse injuries by increasing your participation gradually. Make sure to allow days for rest in between periods of activity. This will enable your body to heal and build back up.

If you’re going to hike, familiarize yourself with your route beforehand, especially if children will accompany you. And, with kids, don’t make the hike too rigorous for their capabilities. The same is true with bicycling. Know the trails to follow and how far you’ll be going. Be sure to bring along water and have proper safety gear, including helmets, which are especially important for children.

More children are also getting interested in golf. This is a great family sport, especially if you take time to walk the course. If kids are along, consider playing a 9-hole course.

Horseback riding is great calorie-burning exercise and is a good workout for your lower extremities. It’s important to have an experienced rider with you and to wear the proper safety gear, including helmets for kids.

Even routine aerobic exercise and strength training can be more fun if done outdoors. Try one of the excellent local par courses designated for this purpose. A par course is a series of stations located along an outdoor path. At each location, there are suggested exercise activities for building strength and cardiovascular fitness.
“Proper exercise on a good par course can be very safe, causing minimal stress to joints and muscles with even less likelihood of injury than that done at a gym,” says Dr. Jaureguito. “Any exercise using your own body in combination with resistance is safer.”

Despite all the precautions you take, accidents can still happen.

“So, be prepared,” interjects Dr. Bell. “Keep first aid supplies for sports nearby. After an injury, use the ‘RICE’ treatment. That’s rest, ice, compression and elevation.”

If you can’t bear weight on a leg or lift an arm, see your doctor or head to the emergency room or urgent care center he advises. 

The Sports Medicine Center at Washington Hospital offers a variety of treatment options to help injured athletes return to their favorite activities as well as to prevent future injuries. To learn more about the services available at Washington Hospital’s Sports Medicine Center,  please call (510) 794-4671 or visit and click on “Services & Programs,” and select “The Sports Medicine Center” from the drop-down menu.

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