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When heading out for a workout we often tell ourselves, “I'll only be out there for 45 minutes” -- so we don't apply essentials like sufficient clothing, sunscreen, bug spray, or even lip protection.
The sun's harmful rays can cause damage even with short exposures, so screen up, preferably with a sport or water proof variety of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Don't forget the tips of your ears and nose.
Don't bug me
It used to be that bug spray was more for reducing the annoyance of bug bites, but with recent threats of West Nile Virus, there are now health considerations for applying bug spray -- especially if you're exercising in grassy, wooded or watery areas where insects are more abundant.
Heavy breathing during exercise can dry out lips more quickly. Add in sun and sweat and your smackers will be screaming for salve. Choose a variety with a good SPF rating, and remember -- apply early, apply often.
When exercising in the heat it's a fine balance between covering up and cooling down. Wear light-coloured, loose clothing that will deflect the sun's rays and allow sweat to evaporate. Your workouts are about optimizing cooling, not maximizing tanning, so avoid tank tops and loose mesh tops that overexpose you to the sun and heat. Always wear a light-coloured hat and good protective sunglasses. For prolonged exposure, regularly soak your hat in water, or wear a cooling bandana around your neck.
If you're uncertain of the weather's intensity, do a quick check of your local weather and where possible, check out the heat index. The heat index measures a combination of heat and humidity and basically tells you how hot it "feels."
Page 1 of 2 – More great summertime exercise tips on page 2!
If the temperature soars to 32 C or higher, or if the humidity is higher than 75 per cent, be even more aware of the following considerations:
Time and type
Since the sun is most intense between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., schedule your outdoor workouts for early morning or late afternoon. If the temperature rises during your workout, seek out shade, decrease your intensity, or move it indoors.
Swimming can be a great cooling option, but outdoor pools can still cause overexposure to the sun, and exercise will still increase your body temperature -- and you may not be aware it's happening. Shorten your swim time in high sun, and don't forget to drink plenty of liquids while you're working out in the water!
As you begin to exercise and produce more heat, you cool your body by sweating. In a dry environment, sweat is evaporated. In a humid environment, where there is a high level of water vapour in the air, evaporation is limited, and therefore the cooling effect of sweat decreases and body temperature can rise dramatically. Interestingly, with every one-degree increase in core body temperature, your heart rate increases by about 10 beats per minute, so heart rate monitoring can be a good way to check in with the heat, provided you know what's normal for you.
An essential way to aid cooling is to stay well hydrated. In extreme heat conditions, fluid needs can increase five or six times above normal. Since your thirst mechanism is slow in responding to fluid loss and dehydration, you need to force yourself to drink, even if you do not feel thirsty. Prolonged dehydration -- which can lead to heat exhaustion, characterized by rapid, weak pulse, low blood pressure, faintness, profuse sweating and disorientation -- can be life-threatening, so it's smart to have a regimented plan for ensuring you're adequately hydrated at all times.
1. Drink about two cups of water 20 to 30 minutes before exercising.
2. Drink a half cup every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise.
3. During intense exercise or training, weigh yourself before and after to be sure there is not more than a 1 per cent weight loss.
4. At the end of your workout, drink two cups of water for every pound of weight lost, then up the intake for your next workout. Adequate hydration means no post-workout weight loss!
The heat can decrease your appetite, but it's important to eat normally. Try to eat small meals five to six times per day. Include lots of fruits and vegetables. Aside from being nutritious, fruits and veggies also tend to help with hydration.
Remember, it's easy to shy away from your exercise responsibilities when it's hot and sunny and the patio is calling, but excuses can make an entire summer go by without exercise. Get smart about your summer fitness regiment with these guidelines, and you'll safely sweat your way to a fabulous fall.
Inspired to make this your most active summer ever? Check out our tips on how to get your best bikini body.
Page 2 of 2 -- Learn the basics about summertime safety on page 1.
Michelle Cederberg, MKin, PFLC, is a fitness motivation expert, personal trainer and professional speaker.