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Health & Fitness

When Working Out in the Heat

By Nick Hilden, 25 Jul, 2016 04:44 PM
  • When Working Out in the Heat

Tips to enjoy a safe workout in the summer

 

We’re all excited once summer comes – the season for getting outside and getting active. Whether that means running, hiking, cycling, or performing any other form of outdoor exercise, you’ve finally got the weather on your side.

But when you combine physical exertion with increased temperatures, you’re faced by a number of risks. Dehydration is the first that comes to mind, but all of that excess sweating also means that you’ll be pumping through your body’s supply of electrolytes and sodium.

The obvious solution is to drink a ton of water, but it might not be that simple – too much water with too little electrolytes can lead to hyponatremia (translation: low blood sodium levels), which can cause nausea, confusion, muscle cramping, seizures, and in extreme cases even death.

So how can you make sure that you’re enjoying a safe workout in the summer heat? Here are a few tips:

Get your water

Before you work out drink at least two glasses of water, and be sure that you have a water source close at hand while you exercise, whether that means a water fountain, bottle, or camel bag. Drink at least every 15 minutes, even if you don’t think you need to. After you’re finished, be sure to put back at least two more glasses.

And your electrolytes

You can replenish your stores of electrolytes by either drinking electrolyte-rich beverages or by taking supplement capsules. A great way to replenish water, electrolytes and carbs while giving yourself a chance to cool down is to eat a piece of fruit.

Salt up

It might seem counterintuitive, but salt is an important part of your workout as sodium is one of the main components of your electrolytes. Once you start sweating it all out, you’ve got to restock your body’s stores. A small handful of olives, salted nuts, or pumpkin seeds make for a great sodium boost.

Precool

Studies have shown that precooling by taking a cold shower and chugging an icy beverage right before your workout doesn’t just combat the effects of high temperatures, but can actually boost your performance.

 

 
Pick your times wisely
 
The hottest part of the day spans roughly 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so if possible avoid working out during this period. The coolest time of the day will always be the early morning.
 
Don’t forget the sunscreen
 
Sun burns, skin damage, and skin cancer are all potential risks even on cloudy days. So if you’re going to be outdoors for long stretches, be sure to apply sunscreen. And don’t forget the easy to miss areas, like your nose, ears, the back of the neck and your lips.
 
Dress appropriately
 
This can be as simple as wearing loose, light-coloured clothes that will breathe and reflect sunlight, or you can go as far as getting some hi-tech outdoor clothes that are made out of special materials that keep you cool and wick sweat from your body.
 
Look for shade
 
Find some coverage to keep you cool over the course of your workout. There’s nothing better than going for a run or hike through the trees.
 
Know when to go easy
 
When temperatures get really high, it’s often a good idea to play it safe and dial down your workout a bit. Some days, it’s alright to give it a six or seven rather than your 10.
 
Pay attention to your body
 
We all know that part of working out involves “pushing through” the pain or exhaustion, but when it comes to exercising in the heat that mindset can be dangerous. If you start to feel dizzy, confused, nauseous, or overwhelmingly tired, it’s a sign that something is wrong. Give yourself a break and get some water. 

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