Dr. Clayton Lawrence, CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on overall wellness in an otherwise toxic world. (Always consult with your own physician before beginning any new diet/exercise routine).
Hot and humid is just around the corner, with July rapidly approaching. If you’re an avid runner, biker or outdoor enthusiast, you know that soaring temperatures can create obstacles when it comes to your fitness commitments. But more important are the safety concerns that are presented during the summer months, when keeping the body hydrated can be extremely challenging.
Hydration plays a significant role in virtually all of the body’s functions and becoming even slightly dehydrated can create all sorts of physical and mental symptoms, like rapid heart rate, lethargy, cramping and foggy thinking. This and other factors like heat stroke, sun poisoning and heat exhaustion are all things to consider when gearing up for outdoor exercise during the summer.
We’ve compiled a list of ways to prevent and/or counteract heat-related inflictions without compromising the quality of your workout. Remember to use your best judgement and do everything you can to prepare.
Begin hydrating the night before with water and fluids rich in electrolytes.
Travel by vehicle to place extra water along anticipated routes.
Opt for shaded trails and routes when possible.
Spend as much time as possible in the outdoors over several days to allow the body to become acclimated to the increase in temperatures before attempting a workout.
Plan your fitness activities to take place early in the morning or later in the evening, when the temperatures are cooler.
Check your urine output – if it’s too dark or occurring more than 4-6 hours apart, you need to focus on increasing fluids.
Rather than challenging yourself to meet goals and break records, focus on maintaining previous achievements or even cutting back on the pace.
Dress in light-colored and lightweight clothing and remove any protective head gear periodically to allow body heat to escape.
Maintain energy with hydrating snacks like fruits and veggies.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about your current medications, as some may make exercising in the heat a danger for you.
Don’t forget the sunscreen and lip protection, especially if you’ll be exercising during peak hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
Be smart and know when it’s just too hot. Stay indoors and dust off an old VHS workout for a fun change up.
If you feel thirsty, you have not done an adequate job at staying hydrating so be sure to increase your fluids in the future.
You know your body best, so never ignore its warning signs – keep an eye out for dizziness, headache, nausea, irritability or feeling faint.