Health & wellbeing

Group activities, such as Bollywood dance, are a fun and effective way to get fit.Summer is fast approaching, which can be a cause of pressure for many.

AS THE YEAR changes and Christmas treats remain but a distant memory, summer seems to be the next big thing to look forward to. For some, however, this is quite a stressful prospect, as wearing less clothing is a motivator for looking better and fitter. Finns have a term for being fit for the summer, kesäkunto.

People have different methods for becoming fit. Not everyone wants to lose weight, but merely increase excercise and healthy living habits as the gloomy wintertime and somber mood subside and joyous and active summer leisure kicks in.

Different diets may be tested for losing weight, but it should be kept in mind that everyone is an individual and bodies react differently to different methods of weight loss. Methods that are too drastic are always somewhat dangerous, with possibly severe effects.

The much-debated low-carb diet relies on a low consumption of carbohydrates and an often increased intake of fat or proteins. The diet places emphasis on digestion instead of limiting calories. Foods high on starch and sugar are replaced by vegetables and natural fats.

The low-carb diet has been advocated by the US doctor Robert Atkins, whose Atkins diet is highly popular and based on a low intake of carbohydrates. It relies on ketosis, which refers to an increased level of ketone bodies in the system, either due to a diet or fasting. The Atkins diet reduces the level of insulin, due to a reduced consumption of carbohydrates, which is why these low-carb diets have been used with diabetes patients.

Be realistic

Besides eating healthy and eating less, or following a particular diet, exercise is the key to getting in shape for the summer. Sofia, 24, exercises regularly and trains boxing. When asked if she changes her diet during the early months of the year or spring, she answered: ”I don’t change my diet, as I try to eat healthy throughout the year. I do often increase exercise, as outing opportunities are better than during winter.”

She has specific tips for those who wish to get fit for the summer. ”Increase sports and eat small portions of food 5-7 times a day. Don’t cut your intake of calories too drastically, for that results in gaining weight later. Drinks lots of water and avoid sugar. Don’t set standards that are too high, be realistic,” she says.

A major problem for dieters and exercise enthusiasts is a lack or motivation, or even lack of company. It is often easier to fully invest in gym or sports if you have a friend with similar goals to encourage and accompany you. It is also important to find the eating habits and exercise routines for each individual. Some prefer the solitude of a gym session, while others enjoy group activities.

The Internet as well as women’s magazines have sections dedicated entirely to kesäkunto. Diet tips, exercise methods and expert advice are something to be looked into, if a personal routine for the summer is still lacking. The commonly held view seems to indicate that the combination of a proper diet and enough exercise is the way to go.

Naturally, healthy living habits should be maintained all year around, though the dark and freezing winter days are a challenge for those who live in Finland. Nevertheless, it is good to immerse yourself into something as useful as getting in shape. Needless to say, the benefits of exercise go beyond a bikini-body; they pave the way for lighter days.