With summer fast approaching, and the heat that comes along with it, exercising can start to become a challenge. No one wants to be outside when it’s 85 degrees and humid, but no one wants to be inside while the sun is shining. So what to do? Here are some do’s and don’ts of summer fitness to stay safe and successful this season.
DO hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate
When it comes to summer exercise, water and hydration are going to be essential to your performance. Studies have shown that just a 2% dehydration can cause a 20% decrease in performance. Experts recommend taking the “lemonade test” to see if you are hydrated. While using the bathroom, your urine should have the color of pale lemonade. If it is a strong yellow color, or has a strong odor, chances are you are dehydrated. Try drinking 15-20oz of water 2-3 hours before exercise, and an additional 8oz of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise in warm weather.
DON’T protein load before exercise
Studies have shown that a meal high in protein before an exercise session can actually raise the bodies basal temperature, making it harder to stay cool in warm weather. This is because protein is harder for the body to digest. Experts recommend instead drinking an iced sports drink or slushie. Cooling the body’s internal temp prior to an exercise session in warm weather can help improve performance and keep the body cooler for longer. Try an iced or frozen Gatorade 30 minutes prior to exercise.
DO dress properly
When it comes to warm weather workouts, the tightest fitting clothes you have are probably not the best choice. Your body needs all the help it can get in staying cool, and extra airflow helps. Tight and form fitting clothes restrict airflow around the body. Instead opt for loose fitting, dri-fit clothes. These help to wick the sweat away from your body, keeping it cool. Also avoid cotton, it will soak up moisture and hold it like a sponge; avoid at all costs.
DO be flexible with workout times
If you look at the forecast, and it is scheduled to be 100 degrees right when you were planning on going for that run, your best option is to reschedule for another time of the day. Plan ahead for the week; if you see it is going to be a hot week, plan on getting up early or working out late when the sun is not at its peak intensity. Keep a flexible exercise schedule, even if it means missing out on something else.
DO listen to your body
Heat stroke and heat related illnesses are a serious concern when it comes to summer exercise. Don’t be afraid to cut a workout short, or go at a slower pace. Some warning signs include flushed skin, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, confusion and cessation of sweating. If any of these things start happening to you, jump into a COOL, not ice, bath to gradually lower body temperature to a safe point. Heat stroke is very serious and potentially deadly, don’t ignore the warning signs.