It’s summer and baby it’s HOT out there! Maybe you are planning on a scenic bike ride along the river, hiking in the mountains, or spending the day working in the garden. That’s reason enough to ensure that you brush up on the basics for safely exercising outdoors in the heat. The long dog days of summer have arrived and what you need to know is that exercising in the heat can be risky if you aren't careful. So relax, chill out with a tall iced glass of green tea, and learn the safety basics before embarking on outdoor summer workouts. Here are five tips to keep you fit and safe this summer:
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration is the biggest problem facing outdoor exercisers. The body cools itself off by sweating—if you become dehydrated, your ability to sweat and cool yourself off becomes limited. Make sure to drink, drink, drink before, during, and after your exercise bout. And don’t forget that diuretics like caffeine-containing drinks and alcohol, when consumed before exercising in the heat, can accelerate the effects of dehydration.
- Know your sweat rate. The goal for safe exercise is to match your liquid intake to your sweat rate. Weigh yourself before and after a typical outdoor workout. You lose about 2 1/2 cups of water per pound of body weight lost on the scale. As a rule of thumb, to maintain good hydration for summer workouts, drink about 20 ounces of water two hours before exercise, a minimum of 8 ounces of water before getting out in the heat, and then a gulp every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.
- Heat and humidity will SLOW you down. Heat and humidity are the true culprits in causing heat illness when exercising outdoors. That’s because these conditions both hinder your ability to sweat, so your ability to cool yourself off is compromised. Understand that you will not be attaining any PRs on really hot and humid days! SLOWING down is the body’s way of protecting itself and should be expected on days such as this. You can even check the heat index for the relative humidity before you go. If the heat index is in the danger zone…exercise indoors!
- Dress for the elements. If you plan on exercising in the dog days of summer, then you must dress for them. Protect yourself by wearing LIGHT-colored, breathable fabrics. Cover your skin with sunscreen (the kind that stays on with sweat), and don’t forget to shield your eyes from the strong UV rays with a good pair of sunglasses. A well-ventilated hat with a large visor is also helpful. If you partake in sports where you wear a helmet, be sure to take it off during water breaks to cool down.
- Exercise early or late in the day. It is not wise to exercise during the hottest part of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest, typically between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Your best bet is to get out there early in the morning or late in the day.
Follow these five tips with the support of Fitness Together and you’ll surely be staying fit safely this summer. A Fitness Together trainer will develop a program designed to meet your specific goals. You’ll also receive nutritional counseling through the Nutrition Together program, which will complement your workouts. To find the Fitness Together studio nearest you, visit fitnesstogether.com.
Let Fitness Together help you make this “summer of 11” your best yet!