It can be hard to be motivated to work out even when conditions are ideal, but when a drive to the gym means walking through a 115 degree parking lot? Staying active gets significantly more challenging.
As you try to maintain your workout routine through the hottest weeks of the summer, here are five important things to keep in mind:
1. Hydration, Hydration
Hydration is priority number one when it gets hot out, a necessity that could not be repeated enough times.
Although the right amount of fluids to consume will vary from person to person, Mayo Clinic reminds us that chugging water should start before we start feeling parched, not after.
They also suggest switching to a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade to help replenish electrolytes: “Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating.”
2. It’s the Humidity
How many times have you heard the phrase “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity?” When it comes to working out in extremely humid southern states like Texas, that cliche couldn’t be more true.
National Geographic explains how humidity can shut down the body’s natural cooling mechanisms, saying:
“As the liquid sweat heats up, molecules become more active until they transform into water vapor and break free, removing heat from the body and reducing our internal core temperature. But high humidity defeats the system, because sweat won’t evaporate when the air is already saturated with humidity.”
Although humidity is inescapable and outside of your control, simple awareness is key. Pay attention to the heat index and plan accordingly, especially if you’re incorporating an outdoor run into your workout.
3. Suit Up
Even if you’re working out at your favorite gym, chances are the humidity is still going to impact you, and there’s always that brutal walk to and from your car. Having the right activewear for hot weather is a little thing that can make a big difference. Choose lightweight fabrics in lighter colors.
“Not only will these types of materials help you stay cooler during your workout, but they can help you avoid the skin irritation, breakouts, or heat rashes that can result from extra-sweaty training sessions,” Shape.com suggests.
Anything that says “mesh” or “moisture wicking” is your friend.
4. Learn the Warning Signs
Being educated in advance can help prevent potential catastrophe down the road. Even if you’re drinking water, consistent heavy activity in the heat can cause either Heat Exhaustion or the more severe Heat Stroke, which can lead to death.
Medical News Today lists the symptoms of Heat Exhaustion as “heavy sweating, looking pale, muscle cramps, feeling tired, weak or dizzy, nausea or vomiting and fainting.”
Heat Stroke symptoms include “extremely high body temperature, red, hot, moist or dry skin, rapid, strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and maybe unconsciousness.”
Educating yourself on the warning signs can keep you in tune with your own body, but it can also be crucial for supporting the community around you. If your workout buddy starts exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion, help them recognize it, cool down and rehydrate.
If you or someone you’re working out with shows signs of Heat Stroke, it’s time to call 911.
5. Know When Enough is Enough
One of the most important parts of working out in summer heat is knowing when to adapt your plan. If you’re not able to get to a thoroughly air conditioned environment for your workout, it might be time to take a day off, hydrate and hit the gym again once you’re able to.
Although only you truly know your limits, the American College of Sports Medicine published a paper with some guidelines suggesting that any outdoor activity in weather over 90 degrees can pose significant hazards.
Work hard, but be smart: no workout is worth an ambulance ride.
Looking for an air conditioned space to get your workout in this summer? Stop by Texan Fitness, the premier gym in Southlake!