Bull Stewart of Columbia City Fitness Center.
Bull Stewart of Columbia City Fitness Center.

With the sun out longer and temperature on the rise, a standard question is asked: What are Seattleites doing for exercise these days? 

While exercise junkies will work out year-round, the longer days provide many residents with more time to exercise — and looking good at the beach continues to be the timeless carrot on a stick. 

The summer months also provide venues for physical competitions and sports events.

Diana Salazar, a member of 24 Hour Fitness in Northgate, works out five days a week. She swims, bikes, does yoga and lifts weights. Summer is on her mind.

“I’m training for a triathlon at Seafair,” she explained. “I’ll be running, swimming and biking.” 

Salazar said exercise energizes her, helps her lead a healthier lifestyle and eat better. The different types of exercises she does give her body the ideal workout.

“I’m learning the best workout is a combination of both cardiovascular and weight training,” she said. “You really need the weight training to get the maximum benefits of exercise. I try to include more weight training in my routine these days.”

Still, Salazar’s favorite exercises are yoga and biking.


Exercise benefits

Seattle has access to all kinds of physical-activity possibilities that simply aren’t available in other places. From skiing at Snoqualmie Pass to swimming in Lake Washington, from walks along Alki Beach to biking on the Burke-Gillman Trail, the city is rich in exercise options. Coupled with the high number of gyms and fitness centers, Seattle has opportunities for everyone — which is important given how sedentary the average American is and how healthful picking up the pace would be.

Exercise can prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic. Engaging in physical activity burns calories, and when incorporating small amounts of activity into the daily routine — such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking the car just a bit farther away from the store — it can be a rock star in attaining weight-related goals.

But exercise is for more than just looking good. It can improve the quality of life, according to many. Exercise releases endorphins, producing a feel-good effect that’s priceless for reducing stress and elevating mood. It helps people sleep better, think clearer, improve sex life, control weight and boost energy.

Andrew “Bull” Stewart, owner of Columbia City Fitness Center, knows that as great as exercise is, Seattleites don’t always have time to get it in.

Subsequently, the fitness guru created a full-body, circuit-training workout 10 years ago.

“People are busy: They don’t have time to focus on fitness, so I made a workout where they come in three times a week for 30 minutes,” Stewart said. “It gets you in the best shape of your life.” 

Stewart said his workout has been popular. 

“Fifteen- to 70-year-olds do the circuit. It includes different machines [that] work the same body parts but will work different muscles and segments and at different angles. And it can be done by anyone — it can fit any walk of life.”


Here’s to health

Along that line, many health conditions and diseases can be fought with exercise. Being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol) and decreases unhealthy triglycerides, according to Mayo Clinic. This can help prevent or manage a range of health concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression and arthritis.

According to a new report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, poor cardio-pulmonary function may be a strong predictor of survival among women with advanced breast cancer. When undergoing treatment, breast-cancer patients often may not be physically active, which can undermine recovery, researchers found. 

According to the report, doctors will now examine breast-cancer patients who engage in exercise before and after therapy to determine if the prognosis is different.

Moreover, exercise improves mood. A workout at the gym or a 30-minute walk can provide an emotional lift after a stressful day. Experts suggest exercise makes people feel better about their appearance, which can boost confidence and self-esteem. It can also improve memory and learning, according to Harvard Medical School.

Like other things, exercise has gone through trends and fads as the years and decades rolled on.

“Years ago, everyone did cardio,” Stewart said, regarding trends he’s seen at his fitness center. “It was all about getting your cardio and heart rate up, but that’s not the case now. You need bone exercises — you can’t get around without weight-bone exercises.

“Seniors need to start doing more weight training,” he added. “If you don’t do that, as you get older, your fitness is going to suffer.”

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get an exercise routine up and running.