Beat the heat: Tips for training in the summer months
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Summer is here, and this means we can finally get outside and do all the fun stuff we've been waiting to do for months. Having fun outdoors is a great way to exercise and stay in shape, but precautions must be taken as temperatures rise. Here's a short list of things to remember when heading outside.
We just don't have "it": On average, we use more energy when it's hotter to cool our bodies off, and as a result we might feel sluggish or get tired sooner than expected. If this happens to you, don't be alarmed. You may not be used to the heat yet, and it'll take some time for you to get acclimated.
Even then, you may not be able to perform as well as in the cooler months. Let your body get used to the heat gradually.
If you're out training and you feel the need to slow down or stop because of the heat, do not let your ego get in the way. Listen to your body, and do what it tells you to do. Some things can't be rushed, and getting used to the heat is one of them.
Drink, drink, drink: This is probably the most important thing you can do. The need for water and drinks like Gatorade increases dramatically when exercising in the heat.
Drink a glass or two of water before heading out, and sip every 15 minutes or so after that. Don't rely on your thirst to indicate if you need water.
If you wait until you're thirsty, there's a good chance you are dehydrated already, and your performance may suffer.
Personally, I add replacement drinks like Gatorade 45 minutes into my outdoor training sessions in addition to water. These types of drinks help to replace vital nutrients lost.
Electrolytes: When we sweat, we lose not only water, but vital nutrients like sodium and electrolytes. The American diet is high in sodium, but lack of sodium can occur when exercising in extreme heat. If working out for more than an hour in the heat, consider taking an electrolyte capsule to maintain your sodium and electrolyte levels.
Hyponatremia is defined as a low concentration of sodium in the blood and can occur if a person loses salt via sweating, but doesn't replace it promptly. If a person only drinks water after working out for an hour or longer, they increase the risk of having a sodium deficiency in the body.
Symptoms of hyponatremia may be similar to dehydration; nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech, confusion and inappropriate behavior. Electrolyte pills can help minimize your chance of having these issues.
Use sunscreen: We live in an era where no one is immune from skin cancer. Cover all areas exposed to the sun. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Wear loose, heat-specific workout clothes: The days of wearing cotton T-shirts to exercise in are long gone. Invest in clothing that dries quickly and won't stick to your skin. Also consider wearing a hat and sunglasses to shield your eyes and face from the sun.
Early to bed, early to rise: Try getting out early to get your hard training in when it's much cooler. If you're not training for a specific event where you must perform in the heat, why bother? Get up early, catch a beautiful sunrise, get your workout in and get on with the rest of your day.
Talk to your doctor: When in doubt ask your doctor. If you felt any of the heat-related issues, have your doctor check you out promptly.
Enjoy your summer workouts, but be careful. Listen to your body, and look out for any signs that the heat may be getting to you.
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