At the first sign of summer, most Chicagoans can’t wait to shed their winter layers and spend time outside. Your body, however, may need a little extra time to adjust.
A fun fact: It can take up to 14 days to acclimate to warmer weather.
This especially applies to outdoor workouts. Just like you need to take precautions when exercising in the cold, there are things to consider when exercising in the heat. These seven tips will help you stay safe:
- Adjust your effort – When it’s hot outside, slow your pace and lower the intensity of your workout. Monitor your heart rate and if it starts climbing too fast, it’s a sign you need to scale back. As your body gets used to warmer temperatures it will begin to acclimate, but this might take a few weeks.
- Exercise during the cooler parts of the day – Avoid exercising outdoors when the sun is at its peak. When the sun is out at full force, it’s harder for your body to cool off and for sweat to evaporate from your skin. It can also up your chances for getting a nasty sunburn. Instead, try to exercise in the early morning hours before the sun is up or later in the day as the sun is going down.
- Wear the right gear – Wearing the right clothing will make a world of a difference in how comfortable your workout feels. Choose looser, light-colored clothing in a dry wick material to pull sweat away from your body. Items that are ventilated may also help you feel cooler during your workout.
- Stay hydrated – To perform at your best, you need to stay hydrated. Here’s how to measure how much liquid you need: weigh yourself before and after your workout and calculate the difference in weight. Aim for less than a two percent difference. If you find you lose more than two percent of your body weight, drink 8 to 16 ounces of fluid four hours before your workout. During your workout, drink fluids that contain both electrolytes and carbohydrates. After a hard workout, you may need extra rehydration – up to 23 ounces of fluid that contains sodium, which helps recovery by stimulating thirst and fluid retention.
- Protect your skin – In addition to wearing sunscreen, there is sun protective clothing that can help you avoid dangerous sun exposure. Also consider wearing a hat or a visor to protect your head and face.
- Cool down before your workout begins – The cooler you are at the start of a workout, the less quickly you’ll heat up. A few ways to do this include taking a cold shower before your workout or drinking cold liquids before and during your workout. Some athletes even wear gear, such as ice vests, to help them stay cooler while they exercise.
- Listen to your body – If you feel weak, have a rapid pulse, experience headache, nausea or feel cold and clammy, stop exercising immediately. Move to a cool area, lie down and put your feet up to help with blood flow. Take in fluids and have someone monitor your temperature. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to seek emergency medical attention.
Of course, there are times when it is simply too hot to safely exercise outdoors. If the heat index is over 100 degrees, bring your workout indoors to avoid heat cramps and heat stroke. It’s also smart to pay attention to the humidity level. Even if the temperature isn’t too warm, a higher humidity level may make it difficult for your body to cool off.
Galter LifeCenter personal trainers can help you improve your fitness. We can assess where you are now and provide recommendations for training. To learn more, visit us online or call 773-878-9936.