Written By: Brian Kenney, General Manager, O2 Fitness Wilmington
Spring is here and Summer is right around the corner. Summer is the perfect time to go outside and have fun. It's one of my favorite times of year because there are so many outdoor activities to choose from. But the summer heat can be a problem if you're not careful, particularly in areas with extreme heat and humidity.
Staying Hydrated in Hot Weather
I've learned a few things about exercising in the heat and for most, the biggest problems are staying hydrated and maintaining my body's electrolytes and salt. When you sweat, your body loses not only water, but also electrolytes and salt. This delicate balance of water and electrolytes is crucial to keep your body functioning properly.
If you don't drink enough water, you can get dehydrated and suffer from light-headedness and nausea. If not recognized, dehydration can even result in kidney failure and in extreme cases, death. However, if you drink too much water without replenishing your electrolytes, you can experience hyponatremia. This can lead to confusion, nausea, muscle cramps, seizures or even death in extreme cases.
Of course all of this can be avoided by working out at O2 Fitness in the cold air conditioned facilities, but the reality is we will hit the beaches, parks and trails so here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to exercising outdoors in the heat.
7 Tips to Help You Stay Ahead of the Heat Wave
The time of day is important.
Unless you are training for an event that takes place in the daytime heat, 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.
Wear loose, light-colored clothing.
The lighter color will help reflect heat, and cotton material will help the evaporation of sweat. You may also want to try specially designed, "hi-tech" running shirts and shorts. They are often made from material meant to keep you cool.
Sunscreen is a must.
I use SPF 45 just to be safe. It's important to protect your skin. You can get burned and suffer sun damage to your skin even on cloudy days.
Before you go out, drink a glass or two of water. Carry a bottle of water or even a hydration pack such as the CamelBak. Take a drink every 15 minutes, even when you're not thirsty. When you're done with your workout, have a few more glasses of water.
Replenish your electrolytes and salt intake while exercising.
I like to use good ole fashion Gatorade that helps keep my system in check.
Choose shaded trails or pathways that keep you out of the sun.
Check the weather forecast before you start your workout. If there's a heat advisory, meaning high ozone and air pollution, you might want to take your workout indoors. These pollutants can damage your lungs.
Listen to your body.
Stop immediately if you're feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous.
Enjoy your outdoor workouts - but be sure to hit the gym for your strength training and group fitness classes!