Baby, it’s hot out there!
If you have been working out over the past winter and spring months, you may be surprised at the new challenges that summertime fitness throws at you. Today is the first day of summer, and you are probably discovering that your body reacts to the heat and humidity differently than it does to cooler, drier conditions.
But don’t let the heat cause you to lose your momentum. You can keep working hard in the summer, you just have to adjust your approach a little. Keep the following summertime fitness tips in mind as you continue getting stronger and healthier.
1. Cool down first! You can improve your performance in the heat by lowering your body temperature before heading outside. Taking a cold shower or simply putting ice cold cloths on the back of your neck can help you to better tolerate the heat.
2. Find some shade. You may need to move your workout to a different area in order to be in the shade. If you are a runner or biker, change your route to a wooded area.
3. Avoid caffeine. Because caffeine acts as a diuretic, it forces water out of your system. This is the last thing you want when exercising in the summer heat. Save your caffeine intake for several hours before or after your workout, rather than near the time you will be exercising.
4. Stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout will reduce the heat stress on your body.
5. Choose your clothing carefully. Now more than ever it is important to wear clothing that will move sweat away from your body and help it evaporate it quickly. A cotton t-shirt may be fine in the winter, but you will be much cooler in a fabric designed for exercise.
6. Change your workout time. If you are used to exercising during lunch or in the afternoon, you may need to adjust your schedule for the summer months. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times for outdoor exercise. On blistering, hot days, even the shade will not bring much relief.
7. Wear white or light colored clothing. Lighter colors reflect the heat better than darker, more intense colors.
8. Take breaks. Your body can only handle so much extreme heat. When the thermometer climbs, you may find that you need more frequent breaks to keep performing at your best. Be sure to take them. Listening to your body and caring for it is not a sign of weakness: it’s smart.
9. Monitor your heart. The heat places greater stress on your heart. Keep tabs on your heart rate as you work out in the heat. If it spikes quickly or stays too high, give it a rest.
10. Hit the gym. You may find that it is best to simply move your workout indoors for the summer. If you would prefer not to put your body under summer stress, work out in a gym. You will have the added benefit of personal attention and group accountability. It’s a great time to work on form, increase intensity, and plan out a new and exciting workout routine. Beat the heat by mixing things up this summer-try a gym workout.
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Steve Preston, Strength Coach, Husband and Doggie Daddy.