Holy Heat

Summertime, so fun yet SO HOT! I was encouraged yesterday though ~ on our drive home we passed at least 10 runners, walkers, and bikers in the course of 3 miles! I figured I would give some precautionary tips for outdoor exercising in warmer climates in this post.

First, STAY HYDRATED! Hydration is so very important year round. Be smart about what you're hydrating your body with. Try to drink primarily water throughout the day. Gauge how hydrated you are by the color of your urine. If it's the color of apple juice, drink more water! You want it to be the color of pale lemonade, if not clear. (For those prone to being grossed out, sorry for the correlation to popular drinks!)

Second, know when to use sports drinks. Sports drinks like Gatorade were meant to be a sports enhancing drink & a recovery drink. They are not meant to be used in a leisurely fashion. If you are sweating, that means you are losing electrolytes. Electrolytes are the key ingredient in sports drinks (notice the amount of sodium levels on the nutrition facts label). Sports drinks help to "re-stock" your body on electrolytes when engaging in heavy activity. Drinking them leisurely causes sodium levels in your body to spike, due to the increased intake of sodium, which ultimately leads to water retention. You'll definitely go well beyond the recommended intake of 2500mg of sodium a day if you are drinking these leisurely. (And that 2500mg is not suggested for people with high blood pressure, the number is 1000mg lower.) Personally, I suggest that anyone exercising outside during the summer in warmer climates (like Florida & Texas), consume an electrolyte supplement or sports drink after or even during activity.

Third, pay attention to the heat index!! This is so important. Heat exhaustion & heat stroke can creep up on you when you least expect it. Living in Florida, I've learned the hard way how imperative it is to pay attention to the heat index. I worked as a trainer with young kids who played football in July & August. All that gear on top of not staying hydrated, wreaked havoc on those young bodies. The first step of prevention is knowing your climate, knowing the elements, and knowing when to stay inside. Some important elements to consider are humidity & pollution when exercising outdoors. Both impact the respiratory system in such a way that you are working harder, & often not in a good way. Living in Florida (or rather the south), humidity is an everyday occurance 10 months out of the year. (If we're lucky!) In humid weather you sweat & can really gauge the amount of water loss. In dryer climates like Nevada, where humidity isn't an issue, it's harder to gauge the sweat loss since the dry heat wicks it away almost as soon as your body releases it. I can't stress enough, know your climate! Exercising inside is always a good option during the summer months. I know that when training for runs, terrains are always important; but your health is far more important. Dress accordingly if you do decide to exercise outdoors: wear clothes that are lightweight, that absorb sweat in a way to help cool your body, and use sunscreen.

Last, be sure to carry water or a sports drink with you while you are outdoors. It's recommended to drink something every 10 to 15 minutes. I know how cumbersome it is to carry a water bottle with you, so maybe consider a hydropack that you wear on your back, or a water bottle belt. You may look odd, but at least you'll be able to make it through your run, hike, bike ride or whatever activity you choose! For those that are able to exercise indoors, keep that same mindset! Drink water every 10 to 15 minutes! Gauge the need for a sports drink or electrolyte supplement by how hard you're working out & the amount of sweat lost.

One last thing I do before I engage in exercise: I weigh myself before & after each workout. The weight that is lost is water weight & should be replenished. Last week I dropped 4 pounds after a 60 minute workout. I had to replenish that fluid loss. You will see spikes in weight loss during workouts over the hotter months (and living in dessert & tropical climates like Arizona, Florida, & Texas).