No matter where you live, the summer heat is on us. This year, most of the country is experiencing stifling heat, and if you are exercising outdoors, some extra precautions must be taken to avoid heat issues.
First and foremost, you must stay hydrated. The summer heat takes a lot out of your body, and if you aren’t putting water into your system before, during, and after exercise, you are asking for trouble. A rule of thumb is to weigh yourself before you exercise and again when you are finished. For every pound you’ve dropped, you need to drink 16 oz. of water to replace what you’ve sweated out. Whether you weigh yourself or not, make sure you are drinking plenty of cool water when you finish your exercise session.
While staying hydrated gets the vast majority of attention, eating a healthy diet is also important if you are going to be exercising in the extreme heat. A balanced diet will help your body do what it needs to do to keep you moving. While the water is important for cooling you in the heat, good food gives your body systems the energy needed to function in and extreme heat environment. Fruit and veggies also give your body the nutrients needed to repair the tissues after exercise.
Know that the heat can effect your performance. My runs this summer have hardly been good, and it’s hard to see much improvement in my long runs right now. When I go out, I can usually get in about 3 good miles before the heat gets the best of me. While it’s frustrating to not see much progress, as the weather cools and summer turns to fall, the improvements will come. So keep at it this summer, and reap the rewards in the future.
For what is left of this summer, please work out safe. Heat illness is preventable, and being safe is up to you. Make sure you’re eating properly, drinking plenty of fluids, and keeping your goals realistic and you’ll be ahead of the pack as the weather starts to cool.