July 26, 2013 | by Gerard Burley
The heat is on
Fitness, Gay News, Washington Blade, Summer

The ‘no-pain-no-gain’ concept can backfire on you if working out in the summer heat. Listen to your body and dial down the intensity if you work out outside in the dead of summer. (Photo via Bigstock)

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire — well, I don’t know about the roof, but this weather has definitely got me feeling on fire.

Though the heat outside is on 1000 degrees, there are still some ways to keep up with your workouts in a safe, yet effective, manner.

My summer theme is always “hydrate your life.” When we talk about staying hydrated, most people think that means bring a water bottle to your workout. True, you should be doing this anyway, but consistently hydrating throughout the day and hyper-hydrating pre-workout is way more important than how much you drink during your workout. A few simple rules to staying optimally hydrated:

1. Once you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. That thirsty sensation means you’re already dehydrated and your body is approaching the trouble zone.

2. Drink at least 20 ounces of water pre-workout and continue sipping liquid every 5-10 minutes. Don’t let thirst be your guide — just continually sip during your workout. Also, if your workouts are pushing more than an hour in intense conditions, you may want to consider adding a sports electrolyte drink. But as always watch the sugar: too much will actually work against you and dehydrate you more.

3. Keep water in sight as a reminder to drink up while you’re at home and work.  Just by keeping a water bottle nearby, you will be more prone to stay hydrated. Try adding lemon or lime juice to your water. The slight flavor will usually make you drink more than usual. It also acts as a liver and kidney detoxer which is great.

Now when it comes to staying safe while working out in the heat, staying hydrated isn’t the only precaution we can take. Wear light colored breathable clothing that not only feels good to work out in, but also wicks away the moisture from your body.  Heavy cotton clothing can clog your pores preventing your skin from sweating and breathing, making it harder for the body to release heat.  Believe it or not, this turns out to be a major cause of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Many exercise clothing brands now even tell you on the label what temperature and season each piece of clothing is designed for, so check out those tags for the right clothing for summer.

The last big adjustment I suggest is changing the timing of your workouts to the cooler parts of the day. I know we all want to go running right after work like we did during the spring, but baby it ain’t happening. Bite the bullet and set that alarm an hour earlier to wake up before the sun does. This way any outdoor exercise can be completed with less risk of any heat illness. Outdoor night time runs can also be nice, but I find trying to motivate yourself to workout after a long day and then waiting for the sun to go down just is not very realistic for most people. Get the training in before your day gets crazy.

Now for my super trooper go hard workout kings and queens out there, I know you’re going to exercise in the dead of heat whether I say its good or bad, so here’s my advice for you. Try altering the length and/or intensity of your workout. Even professional athletes take more breaks during their summer outdoor workouts, so shouldn’t someone over 30 who sits at a desk most of the day do the same? If you want to do the same length of workout, try splitting it into halves. Give yourself a break where you let your body cool down to the normal temperature level in the AC or even a pool.  As far as intensity, listen to your body. In the heat, 80 percent may be good enough.  Live to fight another day.

Follow these steps and you will be able to enjoy a sweaty, but safe summer.  Always remember, sitting in the ER with an IV of saline because of heat exhaustion is never a cute way to spend your summer evening. Stay healthy and stay active this summer.

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