Summer and exercise go well together: the longer days give you more time to get out and move. And the nice weather allows for a variety of outdoor activities encouraging a change in your routine keeping things fresh. However, while summer provides more opportunities for more activities, there are also more opportunities for exercise-induced issues. To help ensure you have fun and stay safe this summer, there are a few rules for hot weather exercise to keep in mind.
Exercising in the afternoon, in the heat of the day, (3pm is often the hottest part of the day) puts a lot of stress on your body. Your heart has to work hard to provide the blood and oxygen to the exercising muscles, while at the same time shunting blood to the skin where it can be cooled by the evaporation of our sweat. For every degree the body's internal temperature rises the heart beats approximately 10 BPM faster.
So try setting your alarm a half-hour earlier and get in a run before your day even starts. Early morning exercise is a great way to jump-start your metabolism and your day. Or, if early activity is not your thing, you can always go for a post-dinner bike ride around your neighborhood. Just be sure not to exercise within two hours of bedtime or you may have trouble falling asleep.
Water, water and more water! Getting dehydrated is not fun. Headaches, heat exhaustion or sunstroke are all potential uncomfortable and even dangerous side effects of dehydration.
To avoid dehydration be sure to drink 8-12 oz. of water 20-30 minutes prior to exercise plus 6-10 oz. of additional liquids for every 30 minutes of exercise. For most individuals, water is best. No fancy drinks are needed (unless your exercise sessions exceed an hour) and most sports drinks add unnecessary sodium and calories to your diet.
While looking good during exercising is always imperative (maybe that's just me?), it's also important to dress for the temperature and the activity. Be sure to wear loose fitting breathable fabric and a hat. Covering your head with a loose, billed hat is an easy way to keep cool. And remember to pour water over your head periodically (if possible).
You will have a greater tolerance for the heat if you take the time to become accustomed to the heat slowly. Break up your workouts. So if you normally take an hour-long run each Saturday morning, break the runs up into 30-minute segments, recovering and re-hydrating between workout sessions.
There are times when going out and exercising would do more harm than good. To keep yourself healthy, it's essential to know what not to do:
The bottom line is, listen to your body. You want to challenge yourself and make your workouts count, but you don't want to go past that point of no return. The old adage "no pain, no gain" does not apply while exercising in the heat. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.
Author: Sue Ridgeway