Summer is the perfect time to go outside and have fun with exercise! Get off the cardio machines and enjoy the fresh air. Get creative and keep burning body fat. It's one of my favorite times of year because there are so many fun options to allow you to vary your exercise activities, like swimming, running, hiking, cycling, gardening, mowing the lawn, washing the car, volleyball, golf, walking the dog, hulla-hooping, dancing and walks along the beach…. just to name a few. But when it comes to fun in the sun, sweating it out in the summer heat can lead to dangerous health risks, particularly on days of extreme heat and humidity. It’s important to know what to do and not to do to protect your health and allow peak performance. If you are new to exercise, ALWAYS get your doctor's clearance first.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep you cool & safe during your outdoor workouts:
Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water (a typical single-size bottle of water is 20 ounces) two to three hours before exercise .Then, during your workout, try to drink an additional 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes (this is especially important on very hot and humid days). Consider carrying a hydrating pack for better convenience. There are several fit options to choose from that will not interfere with your workout activities. However, do not wait to feel thirsty to drink, by then you’ve already depleted your water supply.
The delicate balance of water and electrolytes is crucial to keep your body functioning properly. When you sweat profusely (which is common on very hot days) your body not only loses water but also essential electrolytes and salt. Drink low-sugar performance drinks for optimal replacement. Capsules are also available if you don’t want the added calories of a drink.
Check the weather forecast before you start your workout. Avoid exercising from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's the hottest part of day. Generally, the early morning is the best time to workout, especially if it's going to be scorcher that day. Evening workouts are also an option but be sure not to exercise alone. This will be a perfect time to bring your workout buddy and stay in well-lit, heavy trafficked areas. Remember, safety first. If there's a heat advisory, meaning high ozone and air pollution, avoid outdoor workouts and take your training indoors. These pollutants can damage your lungs.
SCREEN AND SHADE
Sunscreen is a must. It's important to protect your skin. Use SPF 45 or higher for best skin safety. There’s still the potential for sun burn and other skin damage even on cloudy days. Whenever possible, choose shaded walking travels to avoid direct sunlight and for added protection. To top off, wearing a sun visor or Dry-Fit hat is an added bonus to shield from the sun while allowing excess heat to escape from the head.
WHAT TO WEAR: WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT
Loose, light-colored clothes keep the body cool by reflecting heat; while all natural, breathable material like cotton allows for the evaporation of sweat. Other athletic wear that includes “dry-fit”, “stay-cool” and other similar fabrics are specially designed to keep you cool. They may cost a little extra, but the difference can be felt during your workouts. Avoid heavy synthetic blends of clothing. These fabrics not only hold on to moisture weighing you down during your workouts, but also retains odors resulting in foul-smelling clothing…. that’s never a good look.
Cooling down with essential oils before your workout can be helpful on these hot days. Placing just a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil on your temples and back of your neck has been shown to have a cooling effect on the body and help you to breathe easier as it opens up your nasal passages. Another cool option is drinking a frozen slushie pre-workout. Research has shown that lowering core body temperature before and during exercise can help athletes perform better. Keep your slushies low-fat, low-calorie and with low-sugar content. Avoid those slushies found at your local convenient store or gas station superstores.
After a great outdoor workout, refuel with fruit such as melons or grapes which are >80% water. Not only are they a tasty treat but also help to replenish fluids that were lost during your “hot” workout and provide a great energy boost post-workout. Other cool treats include fruit or green protein-smoothies, low-fat frozen yogurt or cool fruit-filled gelatin cups.
Remember to always listen to your body. If you feel dizzy, nauseated or faint during your workouts, stop immediately. Rest, hydrate and re-evaluate your ability to resume your workout. Stick with SMART goals for the summer. These may include restarting or revamping your activity level, burning more fat, losing weight, increasing muscle tone, improving your mood or just greater overall well being.