Don’t let high temps kill your workout vibes.
Texas is known for its blazing hot summer temperatures. Which can also be dangerous when proper precautions are not taken. While the outdoors may leave you hot and sweaty, don’t let it dictate your summer exercise goals. Here are some ways to mitigate heat exhaustion and stay safe in the midst of rising temperatures.
Know Your Body
Hot weather puts extra stress on your body and everyone responds to heat differently. If you don’t take proper care of your body you can risk serious illness or injury. The best way to avoid overworking yourself is to understand your physical limits in normal conditions. It may be necessary to take extra breaks and adjust your workouts in order to stay healthy in the heat.
If you are not used to working out in the heat, begin with a shorter and less strenuous exercise. Slowly increase your time and intensity of your workouts throughout the summer. This will allow you to slowly acclimate your body to the temperature change by adjusting your cardiovascular and nervous system.
If you start to feel ill, listen to your body. Muscle cramps, nausea, weakness, dizziness, vision problems and increased heart rate are some common symptoms of heat exhaustion. It is OK to cut an exercise short if you feel like you are developing heat exhaustion.
If you can, try to exercise with a partner. In hot temperatures you never know how your body may react. If you have a medical emergency, a friend will be able to help you out. A workout partner will keep you accountable to stay safe and will make exercising in the heat more bearable. If you do not have a workout buddy, tell someone what you will be doing, where you will be and for how long. If you are gone for longer than you said have them check on you. Always have a way to contact someone in case you get stuck in a dangerous situation.
Plan your workouts before you go. This will minimize your time in the heat and help you keep track of how much you workout. If you are going for a run or cycle, map your route before so you know exactly how far you are going and how far you are from your destination. Add some water breaks and rest time so you don’t overheat too. Always check the UV index, temperature and weather conditions before you decide to exercise so you can plan accordingly.
Know What to Wear
Your attire can make a big difference for your summer workouts and investing in good workout clothes could definitely be worth it. Bright and lighter colored clothing keep your body cooler than darker colors since they will reflect sunlight and heat. Additionally, lighter weight clothing is more comfortable and is made of materials which help you exert less energy and are made of material that absorbs sweat and allows you to avoid skin irritation. Instead of tighter clothes, consider wearing more loose fitting outfits which are breathable and allow your body to circulate air. Remember to wear sunscreen, especially if you decide to workout with a shirt. Consider accessories like neck towels, hats, Camelbaks and breathable socks to help you keep cool and avoid injury during your summer workout.
When and Where to Exercise
Try to avoid mid-day workouts when possible. It may be worth it to wake up earlier to get your workout in before it is too hot outside. To avoid peak temperatures, try to get out before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Instead of working out directly under the sun, find a nice area under a tree or trails with lots of shade to protect you from the direct heat.
Use your discretion. If it feels too hot outside, consider an alternative. There are many indoor guided workouts which can work your muscles and get your heart rate up just as much as an outdoor workout. The summer is also a perfect time to participate in water sports. If you have access to a pool or body of water, consider taking up swimming or other water activities.
What to Consume
It goes without saying you should drink lots of water. During summer workouts, your body is subject to sweating a lot which can cause you to lose essential water your body needs. To stay hydrated, make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout.
Texas Heart Institute recommends drinking about 16 ounces of water a few hours before a workout and again 15 minutes before a workout. Be sure to be drinking water frequently throughout the duration of your exercise (about 5 ounces every 10 minutes) and have at least 34 ounces of water available for a one hour workout. Be sure to drink another 16 ounces of water to replenish your body afterwards. While ice cold water may feel refreshing, opt for cool or room temperature water because your body will absorb it faster.
If you would rather drink sports drinks, these are good too. Sweating a lot causes you to lose electrolytes which are essential minerals needed for many body functions. While these are not necessary, sports drinks are flavored and will hydrate your body just as well as water. They will also help replenish minerals lost in a workout.
Another way to rehydrate is through the foods you eat. Fruits and vegetables are great foods to eat because they are rich in water and minerals. Melons, berries, lettuce and cucumbers are all excellent options for a delicious hydrating snack. Nuts, crackers and almonds are great for replacing any salt lost through sweating. A summer salad with fruits and nuts is an excellent option for a replenishing post workout meal.