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This Week’s What Do I Need To Know About……Patriotic Workouts, Avoiding Tech Neck, And Healthier Picnics.

Summer is officially upon us and outdoor fun in the sun has begun! Get in the mood to celebrate July 4th with a patriotic-themed workout. Each move will make you proud to be a fit American! We’ve also got tips on how to keep your neck healthy so you’ll be able to enjoy the 4th of July fireworks—without cramping out. Since eating al fresco is one of the best parts of summer, we’ve got you covered with lots of ideas for healthy picnicking. Let the watermelon eating contests begin!

Celebrate July 4 with a patriotic workout!

While July 4th might conjure images of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, there’s no reason why Independence Day can’t also be a day of patriotic fitness. A morning workout before the festivities begin will keep you feeling energized all day. If you’re looking to build some serious 4th quarter endurance like the New England Patriots, consider adding some uphill sprints to the end of a hard workout. Increase your speed and reaction time with star jumps—similar to jumping jacks but often incorporating squats before jumping high. And feel the fireworks in your glutes by doing American deadlifts—which add a posterior tilt at the top of the lift. No matter where your July 4th travels take you, you can always find a way to work out via bodyweight exercises or by tossing a few resistance bands in your suitcase.

Can bad posture be a pain in the neck?

While staring up at fireworks might lead to an achy neck (hint: gentle movements in the morning can help), neck pain is more commonly a consequence of daily habits such as slouching—which can lead to a weak core and shoulder impingement. Using a standing desk and keeping computers/cell phones at eye level can aid with posture and prevent “tech neck,” while planks and scapular pushups can strengthen shoulder and core—which improves overall posture. Also take note if you do a lot of repetitive overhead motions in your workouts—such as swimming butterfly or hitting a tennis ball. You might want to rest your shoulders more often and stretch/strengthen your rotator cuff to prevent future injury and neck pain. Making these few lifestyle choices will help prevent your next workout from being a real, well, pain in the neck.

Packing a healthier picnic basket.

Start this picnic season off right with a basketful of healthy goodness. Take advantage of seasonal produce by skipping the chips/crackers and snacking on stuffed bite-sized heirloom tomatoes instead. For a boost in flavor and reduction in calorie count, ditch the mayo in potato or pasta salad and try a recipe that uses a lighter vinegar-based dressing. You don’t have to sacrifice the delicious crunch of fried chicken if you want to eat healthy. This recipe for oven fried chicken has only 7 grams of fat per serving—rather than the usual waist-expanding 20 grams in conventionally cooked fried chicken. And if you love the convenience of sandwiches, try cutting refined carbs and reducing calories by wrapping fillings in lettuce or whole grain wraps instead of bread. With these suggestions for lighter picnic fare, you’ll be ready for volleyball, badminton, or your favorite park game right after lunch.

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