Summer is an ideal time to beef-up your workouts or begin a new and challenging routine that will net results. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, weekend warrior, or a newbie to the fitness craze, this more relaxed season of sun and fun provides a great opportunity for you to fine tune your fitness lifestyle. Here are some practical reminders.

Don’t Sleep on Sleep. If you’re really hitting the gym hard plus doing regular cardio to burn fat, strengthen your heart and lungs, and build muscle, you’ve got to make time for rest and recovery.

Skimping on sleep and giving into stress can increase the levels of cortisol and estrogen in your system, and that can lead to an increase in deep abdominal fat, reduced muscle mass, and fatigue. So, relax this summer and sleep — eight to ten hours a night.

Go Heavy on the H2O. You should be chugging water and staying hydrated, especially if you’re working or exercising outdoors in the heat. The International Sports Sciences Association recommends eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water per day — more if you’re really active.

To keep things interesting, try throwing a few slices of fresh fruit into your water bottle for added flavor and Vitamin C. You could also consider heating things up: Freshly brewed green tea is a powerful antioxidant that’s good for your skin and can help stave off cancer. A cup of chamomile tea at night can help you sleep.

Remember: Walking Is Cardo. If walking is your cardio workout of choice, pick up your pace and you’ll likely burn 25% more calories. Try interval training three times a week for 30 minutes. Yes, interval training for walking. It’s not just for cross fit and the stationary bike.

Interval training alternates brisk walking with shorter intense periods of jogging, running, calisthenics, etc. When walking as a workout, your intensity should be such that you can only speak a few words at a time. Carry 5- or 10-lb dumbbells with you to up your intensity.

Lift, Bro. Moderate- to high-intensity weight training twice a week is a great place to begin. The more muscle you carry, the more calories and fat you burn all the time.

If you’re already lifting regularly, try adding an extra hour a week of weight training to your workouts. Use the extra time you have this summer to try different free-weight routines and new machines in your gym — or at a friend’s.

Eat Smart, Eat Often. Looking fit and feeling healthy is about 65% good nutrition. Never skip breakfast. Whether it’s a smoothie, a couple of eggs and toast, or a steamy cup of oatmeal, your morning meal can determine how much get-up-and-go you exhibit all day.

To keep your body from storing fat, instead of large meals, eat smaller meals/snacks every two to three hours. Never eat within three hours of retiring for the night.

Eat lighter this summer by incorporating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish into your diet. Eliminate as much fat, processed food, and junk as you can.

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Tom Bonanti is a personal trainer and licensed massage therapist (MA40288) with his own one on one training studio in Ft. Lauderdale www.pumpnincgym.com. Contact Tom with questions regarding fitness and nutrition trainertomb@aol.com or call to schedule a free fitness intake massage (954) 557-1119.