The heat and humidity in July and August can make your workouts challenging to say the least.
Summer running, tennis and cycling can be delightful if you take the precautions to stay safe. Keep these tips in mind on the hottest days:
1. Ease into it.
Now that the summer heat has arrived, allow your body time to adjust. Reduce the duration and intensity for two weeks until you are acclimated to the heat and humidity. Listen to your body.
2. Get out early, before 7 a.m., or late, after 6 p.m.
The temperature and sun will be lower, making your workout more enjoyable, safer and more productive. Walk or run on the shady side of the street. Play tennis under the lights after sunset. Bike at sunrise to escape the heat and traffic.
3. Stay hydrated.
“Dehydration is one of the biggest problems when training in the heat,” says Carrie Jaworski, M.D., with NorthShore University HealthSystem Orthopaedic Institute. “Being as little as 2 percent dehydrated can significantly hamper your performance and put you at risk for heat illness. Darker urine can be a sign of dehydration. Drink fluids before, during and after workouts. Consider a sports beverage if you are exercising for more than an hour, or are an extremely ‘salty’ sweater. Figure your fluid needs by establishing a baseline weight (weigh yourself in the morning after going to the bathroom). Return from your workout and before going to the bathroom, weigh yourself again. Subtract out any fluid you consumed during your run. Plan to replace about one half to one liter of fluid for every pound you lose.”
4. Consider temperature and humidity.
Running in 80 degrees with 20 percent humidity is drastically different that 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity. Perspiration is the body’s cooling system. In low humidity, the sweat evaporates off our skin and our cooling system is very efficient. In higher humidity, the high water content of the air prevents this evaporation. Our cooling system is inefficient, and therefore our bodies are hotter. Take note of both the temperature and the humidity when planning your workout. Check out theWeather Channel’s guide for exercising in heat and humidity. Heed the warnings. Choose your health club on extremely hot, humid days. There are only a few of these days each summer so enjoy the cool, cleaner indoor air when it is unbearable outside.
5. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing all the way down to your skin.
These fabrics allow the sweat to escape and your cooling system to work properly. Wear as little clothing as you feel comfortable in; shorts and a tank (try the Nike Dri-FIT Touch Breeze) are all you need on most days. A breathable hat and sunglasses will help protect you from the sun and keep you cooler. Dr. Jaworski stresses: “Apply sunscreen liberally and reapply often, especially if you sweat a lot. Don’t neglect the backs of your legs and your neck.” Try Coppertone ClearlySheerfor good protection that isn’t greasy.
6. Know the signs of heat illness.
“Although it is normal to feel tired after a good workout, extreme fatigue, weakness, a racing heart or changes in mental status/alertness can be due to heat illness. Seek medical attention immediately if symptoms persist or are severe,” Dr. Jaworski cautions.
7. Allow for adequate cool down.
Your body temperature will be elevated after your workout. Take time to slow your heart rate and lower your body temperature. Walk, cycle slowly, and stretch in the shade. Consider a cooling shower, swim, or a dip in the lake to really cool off.
Enjoy your early morning sweat as you sip a cool, replenishing drink recalling the polar vortex that is—for now—a distant memory.