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Bikini-friendly fitness tips

Karen Hawthorne is a health and lifestyle writer and producer in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications including Glow, Homemakers, BestHealthMag.ca and the National Post.

Beach- body tricks

Warm summer weather should get us outside for a run or laps in the pool, but often we’d rather lounge on a deck chair and sip -- soaking up the vitamin D is good for us, right? The trick is finding strategies to keep our exercise on track while enjoying the heat. Here’s how to torch some calories in bikini season – without slogging away on the treadmill at the gym.

Happy woman wearing bikini

1Start with breakfast

Sometimes, we're just too lazy to make breakfast, especially in hot weather, so a cup of coffee makes sense -- right? No, don't kid yourself. Calorie consumption and burn is linked to our metabolism. To kickstart metabolism and keep it running smoothly throughout the day, eat a good breakfast with whole grains, healthy fat and protein. Add ground almonds or protein powder to your fruit smoothie and you'll feel much more awake and energized. A new study out of the University of Missouri, published online in the journal Obesity in May 2011, showed that eating a protein-rich breakfast increases satisfaction and reduces hunger throughout the day. Researchers also found this ideal breakfast reduces the brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior.

2Get outside

Don't hole up in the air-conditioned office or living room, stuck on the computer. Tote drinks to keep you hydrated, use sunscreen and hit some trails for a hike or a bike ride. Nature is good for your health. More doctors are prescribing time outdoors to patients who suffer from depression, with the side benefit of getting fit. As California writer Richard Louv says, "The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need." In his new book The Nature Principle, Louv writes about how tapping into the restorative powers of the natural world can boost mental acuity, creativity and promote health and wellness.

3Try a bootcamp

Yes, fitness can be fun. Get energized and inspired in these group fitness sessions, often held outdoors in parks during the warmer months. You're guaranteed a full-body workout with some good old-fashioned push-ups, squats, yoga plank moves and a roster of fun, challenging activities that might take you back to high school gym class. Some camps incorporate obstacle courses, uphill climbs and sprint sessions – all with the camaraderie of your workout mates.

4BBQ with fitness

Host a barbecue party and plan a few games for fun. Instead of the usual sitting and drinking those empty boozy calories, get some burlap sacks for a potato sack race -- prizes, please! Pair up for three-legged races, a water balloon toss, or set up a net for volleyball and badminton. You may feel like a kid, but that's not a bad thing. Kids have a lot of fun.

5Remind yourself to get more active

Be intentional about getting your butt in gear! Do your own housecleaning and chores, get your own drink out of the fridge, stretch from time to time, dance while getting ready for work and walk even when you can avoid it. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and park a few blocks from your destination. If you make your lifestyle more active, you'll find that you're more energetic and fitter in general. That's good news for your bikini, too.

More summer fitness tips

Summer fitness tips to beat the heat
5 Summer-ready abs exercises
Tips to stay cool this summer

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