Pine Rest Blog

Staying Fit and Safe This Summer

The Mind-Body Connection


Both mind and body need attention and balancing for us to live healthy, well-rounded lives. Early Pine Rest staff witnessed how patients working the gardens and farm that helped supply the hospital reaped psychological benefits from their exercise. Today’s research has begun to show that people with heart disease suffer from more depression, lack of sleep can exacerbate and contribute to anxiety disorders, and lack of exercise can increase the chance for dementia to mention only a few findings.


We have implemented a “care for the caregivers” approach to staff wellness at Pine Rest, because their health is important to our mission, too. Practicing healthy habits enriches our lives personally and professionally, and enables us to provide better care and a healthier environment for our patients.


As a part of our endeavor, Kellin O’Rourke from Allegro Coaching joined us last fall as our on-site Wellness Specialist. Kellin has been promoting and implementing wellness initiatives among staff and leadership. Her health, fitness and diet tips have been invaluable and inspirational. We are happy to announce that Kellin has agreed to share her expertise as a guest on our Pine Rest blog. We hope you will enjoy her contributions, whether it is new information to you or just a good reminder.


summer, fitness, safety, dehydrationAhhh. The smell of freshly mowed grass and burgers on the grill, the sound of seagulls flying overhead, finding sand granules in every pair of shoes or room in the house…summer is here! And with the sun and warmer temperatures comes the natural urge to just get outside! But I urge you, please, to still make an effort to make fitness a priority this summer. Summertime is great because we typically tend to move more, however, we need to keep in mind the difference between being active and being fit; make sure you’re getting your sweat on a few times a week and strength training at least two days. Yes, taking a leisurely walk after dinner or working on your lawn are great activities to partake in on a regular basis, but you need to do more to actively get your heart rate up or increase your strength.


That being said, there are definite safety precautions you’ll want to both be aware of and put into place when getting fit this summer to avoid dehydration, sunstroke, and other heat- and exercise-related injuries.


  • The time of day is important. Avoid exercising from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; it's the hottest part of day. Generally, the early morning is the best time to work out, especially if it's going to be a hot and humid scorcher.


  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing. The lighter color will help reflect heat, and cotton material will help the evaporation of sweat. You may also want to try specially designed, "hi-tech" running shirts and shorts. They are often made from material meant to keep you cool (and keep chafing from sweat at a minimum).



  • Sunscreen is a must, must, MUST. It's important to protect your skin from sun damage on sunny and cloudy days. Make sure to wear water/sweat-resistant sunscreen (there are many “Sport” versions out there today), along with sunglasses to also protect the eyes. What number SPF should you aim for? Every person and skin type is different, but the higher the better in every case (just try not to go lower than a 30 SPF)!


  • Stay hydrated. Before you go out, drink a glass or two of water. When you’re exercising, carry a bottle of water or even a hydration pack (such as the CamelBak) to assure healthy hydration. Aim to take a drink every 15-20 minutes (even if you're not thirsty) throughout your workout, and be sure to recover and refuel afterwards with another 16-24 ounces.



  • Replenish your electrolyte and salt intake when working out for 90 minutes or longer to avoid muscle cramps, fatigue, nausea, and mental confusion. (Of course, there may be some incidences in which you may sweat more than you typically do in a shorter period of time, in that case you may need an electrolyte drink or snack). Reach for a Gatorade, Gu, Sports Beans, or even pickle juice to replenish those stores!


  • If you can, choose shaded trails or pathways that keep you out of the sun.



  • Check the weather forecast before you begin your workout. If there's a heat advisory, meaning high ozone and air pollution, you might want to take your workout indoors.


  • Most importantly, listen to your body. Stop immediately if you're feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous, and head indoors to a cool place where you can rest, rehydrate, and even apply ice packs for extra cooling if needed.



Kellin O’Rourke is owner and president of FitKO Health in Rockford, Michigan and an independent contractor with Allegro Coaching in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She currently serves as Wellness Specialist for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.

Posted by at 1:51 PM


Very good points. In addition to the above, I wear a heart monitor to track my pulse rate, keeping it within my target heart range
Posted by Michael K. De Rosa at 3:52 AM on 7/18/2013

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