It is summertime, it is hot, and you do not want your workouts to suffer. If you plan properly, the summertime is a great time to improve your fitness and make some strides in your exercise program. The days are longer, people are abuzz, vacations seem to abound, and the extra sunshine seems to do wonders for our soul. Here are some tips to remember as you exercise in the heat this summer:
- Drink more cold water. Water is so critical for all aspects of our functioning. We are made up of approximately 70% water: the brain is 85% water, the bones are 35% water, blood is 83% water and the liver is 90% water. Water plays a critical role to act as a lubricant in our joints, it regulates the body temperature, helps the digestion system, and helps to regulate our metabolism. Cold water is absorbed into our system faster than warm-water, so it is recommended to drink cool or cold water if possible. One should drink half their body weight in ounces of water. If you feel thirsty, you are already 2% dehydrated. In order to see prevent dehydration, check your urine color; if it’s dark in color, you are dehydrated. If it is pale in color like lemonade, that is a sign of proper hydration. Additionally, by drinking at least 10 glasses of water daily, it reduces the risk of colon cancer by 45%, breast cancer by 79%, and bladder cancer by 50%. So drink more water!
- Exercise in early A.M. or early evening. If you prefer to exercise outside, avoid the hottest, most humid parts of the day. The earlier you work out in the morning, the better. Otherwise, work out around sunset to avoid the blazing sun. The other option is to exercise inside the gym or the house where it is air-conditioned and heat doesn’t play as much of a factor.
- Choose the right gear. When exercising or playing sports outside, be sure to be smart about your clothing. Avoid the following: the color black, any sweatpants, cotton fabric, and long-sleeved shirts. Nowadays, technology has created dri-fit clothing (shirts, shorts, and socks) all of which do a great job wicking away sweat (i.e. Under Armour Heat Gear). This helps keep you cool while exercising. By the way, excessive sweating does not help you lose fat. It helps you lose a lot of water weight that you immediately replace when you eat again. The idea you want to strive towards is to lose fat and minimize water weight loss. Additionally, it is very important to wear sunscreen if you are out in the sun and in short sleeve shirts!
- Wear a heart rate monitor. The heat can drive up your heart rate and a heart rate monitor is going to help you keep your eye on your heart rate. If you are on medication, this can also alter your heart rate and combined with the heat, it is important to track your heart rate via your monitor. I recommend the Polar heart rate monitors (which you can purchase at the Fitness Quest 10 facility or at www.fitnessquest10.com) or the Garmin heart rate monitors.
- Choose the right activities. Summer time is a great time to cross-train and try new outdoor activities. Try out kayaking, swimming, paddling, kite-boarding, windsurfing, water-skiing, running along the coast (if possible) or mountain-bike riding. Go outside the box and try a couple of new activities that you don’t normally do. I was recently in Colorado and tried mountain bike riding in Vail. It was a ton of fun and one heck of a workout!
- Bring a recovery drink with you. Although it is recommended that you drink water throughout your exercise duration, in the extreme heat or if it is in long duration, it is recommended that you also drink carbohydrate-rich drinks while exercising. Examples include Cytomax, Gatorade, Power-Ade, etc.
- Decrease your duration, and increase your frequency & intensity.
Instead of going for long bouts of exercise in the heat, shorten the duration of your workouts and increase the intensity. In the heat it is better to do 4-5 days a week of 20-30 minutes of exercise using high intensity interval training than 3 days a week of 60 minutes. Stoke up your metabolism, wear your heart rate monitor, and make your workouts fun, efficient, and results-driven! The bottom line is that you get your workouts in. But when trying to beat the heat, do not be afraid to shorten the duration and increase your frequency of work out days.
- Know the signs of Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion.
During hot, humid weather, the body’s internal temperature can rise and can result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If not treated quickly, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke, which requires immediate emergency medical care and can be fatal.
- Signs and symptoms of Heat Exhaustion: Severe thirst; Muscle weakness; Nausea, sometimes vomiting; Fast, shallow breathing; Headache; Increased sweating; Cool, clammy skin
- Signs and symptoms of Heat Stroke: Severe, throbbing headache; Weakness, dizziness, or confusion; Difficulty breathing; Decreased responsiveness; Loss of consciousness; Lack of sweating; Flushed, hot, dry skin ;Elevation of body temp to 104 degrees or higher
- If you ever suspect Heat Exhaustion: Seek emergency medical care immediately; Bring the person into a cool, shady place- preferably indoors; Have the person lie down & elevate feet; Sponge bath with cool water repeatedly; Frequent sips of cool, clear fluids (water, juices, Gatorade, or Pedialyte); Monitor temperature & pulse
- Avoid foods or drinks that dehydrate you. Examples include coffee, tea, alcohol (beer, wine, margaritas, etc.), and anything with sugar or caffeine. Fruit juices are examples of drinks that have high sugar content and are not recommended. Again, focus on pure water. If you want to “spice” it up a bit, add fresh lemon slices, orange slices, or green-tea pure extract.
- Focus on fruits that have high water content. By focusing on foods such as watermelon, melons, blueberries, strawberries, pineapples, and oranges, you will be assured of getting great water in your system along with highly nutritious fiber and vitamins/minerals.
- Additionally, be careful of exercising with your pets in the heat as they overheat more easily than humans. Unlike humans who perspire through their skin to allow for evaporation and cooling, the only way a dog perspires is through their tongue. Their skin doesn’t breathe so it is critical you give them plenty of water and to also allow them to get some water on their coat.
Todd Durkin is a 2 Time Personal Trainer of the Year and Founder of Fitness Quest 10 & Todd Durkin Enterprises in San Diego, CA. He trains people from all walks of life, but is best known for the work he does with over 25 NFL Superstars. He trains the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush, Alex Smith, and Donnie Edwards amongst others. His expert staff of 30 trainers, coaches, and massage therapist/bodyworkers perform over 400 weekly sessions and help educate, motivate, and inspire the world to greater levels of health & fitness. Todd has 17 DVD’s on fitness & sports performance and has been featured in many national magazines and media outlets. His ezine newsletter “TD Times” is his way of connecting clients, trainers, coaches, colleagues, and friends from all over the world. He can best be reached via his websites ToddDurkin.com, FitnessQuest10.com, or by using the contact form below: [easy-contact]