07/25 2013

Stay Cool in the Heat (and Have Fun, Too)

Whether you are working, working out or simply playing outside, you need to be attentive to the heat. If sweat doesn’t evaporate adequately from your body, even the healthiest of individuals can become ill.

According to the CDC, those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications.

Don’t ignore the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, confusion and weakness. And take measures to avoid illness with a few of the following tips.

Acclimate. Your body needs time to adjust to the heat. According to Dr. Samuel N. Cheuvront in a New York Times article, your body takes at least 5 days to acclimate to heat. Other sources suggest 10-14 days as a more typical acclimation period.

As your body adjusts to the heat, blood volume expands and sweating increases, thus allowing bodies to cool down more effectively.

Click here for tips on the best way to acclimate.

Drink more water. Common sense suggests that you should drink more water when it’s unusually hot outside. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume 13 cups of fluids day and women drink 9 cups of fluids/day. If you plan to be outdoors exercising, it’s all the more important to hydrate adequately before, during and after activity or play.

Your urine should be colorless or light, so don’t hesitate to check that next time you hit the bathroom.

Recover properly. A recent Shape Magazine article suggests that beer may help hydrate your body after a workout better than water. The reason is that compared to plain water, the carbonation in beer actually quenches thirst faster and the carbohydrates replenish the body with calories lost during exercise. Who wants to argue with that research?

Dress lightly. Keep clothes to a minimum, and make sure that the fabric is breathable so your sweat can evaporate. Also, wear lighter colored clothing that will reflect the sun.

Venture out when it’s coolest. In areas of high humidity, like the South, it is typically cooler in the early morning and late in the evening. In areas like Idaho, where the air is very dry, it’s hotter at 5 than at noon.

You know your climate better than anyone, so seek the times of day which minimize heat exposure.

Get wet. I am convinced I survived the 100 degree Spartan Race heat last month due to the repeated mud baths in which we immersed ourselves along the course.  The combination of the water and slowing down the pace definitely helped decrease my heart rate.

 

If getting muddy is not your thing, then find a pool or other body of water to go for a swim in the middle of a bike ride or run.

Slow down. Performance typically declines in hot weather, even after you have acclimated. So adjust your training and race paces and know that times will improve when the weather cools back down.

Have fun. Beating the summer heat doesn’t have to be a chore. You can get creative and find new and funs ways to cool down. For example, float down a river on a raft. Go kayaking if you live near white water. Water parks bring out the kid in everyone, if you happen to have one in your area. Jump in a lake or river! Ride your bike through a fountain. Throw water balloons!

Some cost money but other options are simple, free ways to stay cool on a hot summer day.

Go inside. If all else fails, just move the workout inside. There are simply days when the treadmill or bicycle trainer will have to do the trick!

 

Spartan Race photo courtesy of North Shore News.

Beer photo courtesy of SmartBlog on Food & Beverage.

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