It’s no secret that being an athlete who spends the majority of their time performing in the heat is a challenge.
In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, exercising in high heat and humidity intensifies how hard the body needs to work to maintain normal function. Core body temperature rises regardless during a workout but is more intense and quicker in warmer weather. In response, the body turns on sweat glands and circulates more blood to the skin in order to cool it down. In addition, the heart pumps faster to send blood to muscles and the skin. High core temperatures, increased heart rate and dehydration caused by increased sweating can cause your overall performance to suffer or even lead to any number of heat-related illnesses.
So how can you prepare properly and ensure your body is ready to workout strong in the summer heat? Follow these 6 tips for working out in intense heat and your performance will be less likely to suffer.
1. Proper hydration
The number one most important thing to do before, during and after every workout (but especially in the summer) is to make sure you are property hydrated. Loading your body with hydrating fluids before a workout can help summer athletes workout longer with less of a risk of dehydration.
How much should you be drinking? Research indicates that you should drink plenty of fluids before exercise, 5-10 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise and fluids with increased sodium content after exercise.
2. Keep it cool
We’re not talking about working out indoors here, we’re talking about keeping your fluids cool. On an especially hot day, drinking something prior to your workout will preemptively cool the body down.
There are other methods for preemptively cooling your body before a workout including taking an ice bath but drinking a sports drink at room temperature is more cost effective and simple.
3. Eat your bread
Because the body works harder when exercising in the heat, the body needs more carbohydrates to perform at a high level. This is especially true for endurance activities. 50-55% of your total calories the week prior to an intense endurance event should be carbohydrates. In the few days right before the event, increase that to 70% to properly prepare.
4. Acclimate to your climate
If you are not used to the heat (for example, if you are vacationing somewhere significantly hotter than you are used to or if the heat spiked quickly where you are) DO NOT get too gung-ho for your first few workouts. Take it easy, get used to the heat and let your body acclimate. Then gradually increase the intensity and duration of your outdoor workouts so your body can slowly adjust. Trust us, your body will appreciate the slow build and soon you’ll be working out longer in the heat without even noticing.
5. Increase your electrolyte intake
Electrolytes like sodium and potassium help the body retain and absorb water. Your body loses these important electrolytes when you sweat. Since exercising in the heat causes your body to sweat more intensely than normal, replenishing your electrolytes post summer workout is even more important than any other time.
6. Get up early
Not only are the outside temperatures lower early in the morning before the world has had a chance to heat up, our body temperatures are also lower in the morning than the afternoon. Therefore, fitting your workouts in in the morning will help keep you cooler. And, as an added bonus, working out in the morning has been proven to have additional benefits such as helping you wake up and kicking your metabolism into gear earlier.
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So fear not, all you summer athletes! Just because the thermometer (or your iPhone) says it’s scorching outside does not mean you have to move your workout to the treadmill or elliptical. These preventative tactics will help make sure you keep performing strong in all your summer workouts and prevent injury or illness!
Ready for more tips and tricks on how to keep your body in peak performance shape at any time of the year? Check out our FREE Staying on the Field – 6 Tips to Preventing Injuries ebook.