The Best Way To Exercise In The Heat
Posted on 10 Jun, 2015
Isn't it funny how you spend each winter counting the days until summer, dreaming of all the outdoor activities you could do if the weather was nice. And then the warm weather arrives, except it's too hot and humid to be outside, let alone exercise. But don't be sidelined by the heat. By taking some basic precautions, you can have a hot summer workout and still be safe.
It typically takes your body two weeks to get used to exercising in a new climate. Take short walks outside over lunch, to get your body used to the extreme heat. And start your summer workouts gradually, at a relatively low intensity.
Drink To Thirst
One of the messages that gets propagated quite a bit in the fitness community is that our thirst sensation generally doesn't appear until we're already a bit dehydrated, so we should drink, drink, drink. Before we workout, while we workout, after we workout.
In Tim Noakes' book, Waterlogged, he demonstrates how too much hydration can drop the sodium concentration in your blood to lethal levels.
"The truth is that you have a thirst mechanism, which all creatures on this planet have. You don't tell your cat or your dog how much to drink, so why do you have to tell humans. So it's simple as that. Drink to thirst, and you won't get overhydration, you won't get dehydration, and you'll optimize your performance."
Drink Water Not Sports Drinks
Very often, because the TV commercials tell us to, we replenish with sports drinks instead of water, to replace the salt we've lost through sweating. But the fact is, water will do in most situations, unless you're doing endurance distances.
Also, here's a neat fact about your body. When you become accustomed to hot exercise conditions, your body will automatically decrease the salt you produce in your sweat. Your body actually learns to hold on to the salts that you require for muscle contractions. So don't over worry about salt replacement after a run in the park.
Wear Lightweight, Light-colored, Breathable Clothes
Remember, it's not only sweating that cools the body, but also the evaporation of sweat into the atmosphere. Wear breathable fabrics to facilitate cooling by evaporation, and go for light-colored clothing as they help reflect heat better.
Exercise Near Large Bodies Of Water
Water has a cooling effect on its surrounding areas. It also tends to be breezier around rivers, lakes and oceans.
Avoid surfaces that absorb and retain heat, like asphalt, AstroTurf, or even sand. Where possible, stick to shaded areas or wooded trails.
Pick The Right Hat
It is important that we protect our head from the sun, and a hat is great for that. But keep this in mind; you lose most of your body's heat through your head, so if you have it all covered up, you will be restricting your body's most effective way to cool down. If you're going to wear a hat, pick one made of mesh or some other breathable material.
Strategize Your Route
If you're going for a run, map out a route that passes convenience stores, gas stations and city parks, just in case you need to rehydrate, or seek refuge in the shade.
Be Aware Of Air Quality
Hot, muggy weather can impact air quality, including boosting the presence of ground-level ozone, an irritant created when heat and humidity combine with pollutants. Hot and humid weather can cause significant breathing problems so it is always best that you check the pollution index before heading out the door.
Lastly, use sunscreen.
Great Books For Fitness
by Kris Carr
by Alex Hutchinson
by Mark Divine
by Timothy Noakes