As we head into the Dog Days of summer, the heat is rising and the humidity along with it.
The other day, my wife Laurie and I were out training for an upcoming triathlon. It was approaching 90 degrees with nary a cloud in the sky. Now, we could have used that as an excuse not to train, but we didn’t allow ourselves the out.
Let’s be honest. Most people would not only skip exercising on that day but for most of the summer.
While we say we are going to go outside and exercise, when the temps are approaching 90, the last thing most of us want to do is exercise. We use the heat as an excuse to avoid our workouts. But, you can beat the heat by making a few small adjustments.
Here are my top 10 tips to beat the heat in the summer.
Change your workout time – When it’s hazy, hot and humid it’s not a good idea to be working out at lunch time. Instead, set your alarm clock a little earlier and get your workout in while the sun is rising. Or, if you just can’t get up early, then evenings before sunset may be your time.
Take breaks – Your body can only do so much in extreme heat. As the thermometer climbs you need to take breaks more frequently, and longer in duration. Listen to your body, and when it tells you to rest, DO IT! It is not a sign of weakness to take a break. It’s the smart thing to do.
Watch your heart rate – As we mentioned, heat places additional stress on the body, and with it a tendency to increase your heart rate. Keep tabs on your heart rate (that’s what your Fitbit is for) and if it rises too quickly or stays high give it a rest. And, stop if it’s much higher than normal.
Choose the right clothing – While we all want to look good in summer, making a fashion statement can backfire, big time. Wear clothing that will move sweat away from your body, and allow it to evaporate quickly. “Wicking” fabrics are great; cotton, not so much.
Choose the right clothing Part II – Opt for white or light colored clothing to help reflect the heat of the sun away from you. Avoid darker colors, which will absorb the sun’s rays.
Find some shade– If you’re a runner, biker or swimmer (or in Laurie and I’s case all 3) try to move your workout to a shaded area. We have a lot of walking and biking trails in our area. Choose one that has shade. Laurie and I love to use the bike path along the Mohawk River this time of year for that very reason.
Stay hydrated – Water, water, water before, during and after your workout. If you’re dying of thirst, it’s already too late. It’s a sign you’re dehydrated.
Avoid caffeine – While it’s all the rage, to drink a cup of coffee before you work out may not be a good idea when working out in the summer. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks act as diuretics and force water out of your system. The exact opposite of what you want. Save the coffee for after your workout.
Cool down first! – Yep, you read that right. Do your cool down before you start your workout. Take a cold shower or bath, jump in the pool or put some cold cloths on your neck before you start your exercise. This can help lower your body temperature and improve your performance.
Hit the gym – When it’s super hot, or if you are prone to overheating, your best bet is to take your workout inside. Not only will it be cooler, you’ll likely have the gym to yourself. It’s a great time to focus on your form, try new things or increase your intensity, and you don’t have to worry about waiting an hour to get on a machine.
Summer, especially here in the Northeast, is a time to relax and unwind, but it can be a trap. As I’ve mentioned before, the summer months are when I see the most weight gain in people. Some of it is due to not eating properly, but much of it is also due to people not exercising.
Try incorporating a few — if not all — of these tips and you’ll still be able to get your exercise in.