It’s all too easy to bail and go home to the air conditioning instead of exercising in sweltering heat. However, if you take note of these tips to keep safe and make your fitness activity as enjoyable as possible, then you can keep up your exercise routine throughout the summer days.
1. Hydrate before, during and after you exercise.
Hydrating before exercise is important, as you are unlikely to drink at the same rate as you sweat when exercising in the heat. Starting out well-hydrated will help minimize and delay the inevitable fluid deficit.
Keep up the fluid intake during exercise, but remember that small and steady wins the race. One big load of fluid near the end of your exercise session (read: chugging down your water bottle once you’ve finished) often results in slower absorption and greater loss of fluid into urine.
Your body continues to sweat for some time after you stop exercising to bring your temperature back to normal range. You therefore need to continue your fluid uptake to balance for this continuing fluid loss.
2. Vary how much you drink depending on your individual needs.
Some people have high sweat rates and will need to drink twice as much as others. One person may lose 3 cups per hour and another person 6 cups per hour. Drinking around 1 cup every 15 minutes is a great way to spread out the fluid intake to minimize dehydration and the feeling of heat exhaustion. Having fluid during the day and consuming 2 cups of water a couple of hours before your session is recommended.
3. It doesn’t always have to be H2O.
What you drink can also vary. Most of the time, water is sufficient. However, when it’s very hot, you may like to consume fluid with electrolytes (salts). These are minerals that help maintain fluid balance within the body, and they are particularly important if you are a high-volume sweater or a salty sweater (someone who loses a lot of electrolytes through their sweat).
You could consider introducing foods that are higher in water content, like fruit and vegetables, before, during or after exercise. You can also drink fluids that contain electrolytes, like oral rehydration fluids and sports drinks. Sports drinks also contain 6-7 percent sugar, which can be useful if the session is long (over 90 minutes generally). If you are a big sweater, oral rehydration fluids or sports drinks might be useful even at shorter sessions during the heat before, during and after. Everyone will be different, depending on their needs.
Having electrolytes in water can help the body retain fluid. It can also stimulate thirst to keep you drinking more, aiding with hydration during and rehydration after exercise.
4. Take breaks and listen to your body.
You will feel more fatigued in the heat, as your body may not be able to produce enough sweat to keep you cool. Don’t push yourself, and listen to your body. If you experience dizziness, loss of concentration or confusion, stop and seek assistance if the feeling does not pass.
Exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening, when it’s cooler. Swimming may be something your body prefers in the heat. Remember, though, you do still sweat in the pool — you just don’t notice it!
Stay hydrated, slip, slop, slap and enjoy keeping active over the summer!
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