Sunday, 01 August 2021

F Faith and Fitness

Safe Summer Workouts

During the long, cold days of winter, we long for summer exercise: soccer in the park, a bike ride along the river, a hike in the mountains, or just a day in the garden. But when the dog days of summer actually arrive, it’s important to be prepared. Exercising in the heat can be risky if you aren't careful.

Typically, our bodies are warmer than the environment. When that begins to change, our muscles regulate heat by releasing sweat, which allows the body to cool itself. But when the body is sweating, it’s losing fluid.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke, dangerous side effects of overdoing summer exercise, come when the body can no longer sustain the pace, the heat, the humidity, or the loss of fluid.  The body cools itself off by sweating, and as long as you remain hydrated, the body is able to cool itself off.  When you become dehydrated, the problems start. If the body can no longer cool itself, it starts storing heat inside. The core temperature begins to rise and you put your internal organs and central nervous system at risk.

Signs of heat exhaustion include general fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, and an increase in body temperature. Temperatures above 104, an inability to sweat, acute respiratory distress, and loss of consciousness can be signs of heat stroke, which is much more severe.  This doesn't mean you have to abandon your quest for a great summer workout. Just follow these guidelines to exercise smart in the heat.

1.  Acclimate Yourself

When the weather warms, you need to be acclimated to the temperature change.  Expose yourself regularly.  It can take up to 14 days to adjust to temperature changes. When clients are preparing for an event that will take place in the heat of the day, I encourage them to be active in the heat ahead of time. They have to try to get out in the middle of the day when it’s hot and exercise in order to acclimate to the conditions for the event. But remember, if you are just doing routine exercise, it is better to exercise outside when it is cooler, such as the early morning or evening or exercise indoors.

2.  Stay Hydrated

When it comes to summer exercise, all our experts agree that the biggest concern is hydration.

If you come back from a summer workout 1 to 2 pounds lighter, you’ve got to do a better job keeping up with hydration. If your urine is the color of lemonade, you’re well hydrated. If it’s darker in color then you may be dehydrated.  To maintain good hydration for a moderate summer workout, I recommend drinking 20 ounces of water two hours before exercise, at least 8 ounces of water shortly before getting out in the heat, and then a gulp every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. To stay better hydrated, drink fluids with food throughout the day.

3. Slow Down

When the temperature hits the 90s, don’t expect to go out and set a personal record. If it’s hotter than you’re used to, cut the pace back or cut the exposure back. Be careful about trying to keep up with friends who are more fit or have a higher tolerance for heat.  Just realize you are going to be slower, and particularly on humid days, it’s going to take you longer to finish.

4. Wear Light, Breathable Clothing

Lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat are best for exercising in the heat.  Clothes should also be light in color in order to reflect the sun. One common problem is people overdress. They cover up the working muscles in the legs, which generates a lot of heat.

5. Exercise Early or Late

If possible, get out before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to exercise in the summer months.  This will add length to your day, and energy to your summer workout. Inevitably, heat and humidity will slow you down. In the worst part of summer, especially if you just want to exercise for health, do it in the gym if you can. Or get out early in the day or late in the evening.

6. Consult Your Doctor or Pharmacist

Many medications...both prescription and over-the-counter... can intensify the effects of heat-related illnesses.  Decongestants, appetite suppressants, antihistamines, antihypertensives, and antidepressants can hasten dehydration and decrease the body’s ability to recognize danger.  Even diuretics like caffeine and alcohol, when consumed before exercising in the heat, can accelerate the effects of dehydration.

7. Use Common Sense

Don’t choose a hot summer day to try a new, more intense exercise routine. You shouldn’t start doing something brand new if it’s really hot, even if it’s just for a half an hour.  When you don’t know what to expect or how your body will take to the activity, it’s best to save it for a cooler, more forgiving day.  The biggest thing with heat and exercise, is common sense. If you’re feeling bad, you need to get inside, get your core temperature down. Even if you are in an event, it’s just not worth it!

Just because it is HOT outside does not mean you have to stop exercising completely!  Just follow a few simple tips and be smart!


Columnist: Kellye Davis Williams


Kellye Davis Stellman is a personal trainer, gym owner, and certified Life Coach who focuses on the health and well being of her clients as well as coaching them to make positive changes that will impact the rest of their lives.  She helps them achieve their health and fitness goals as well as encourages them to strive for and achieve their “life goals” with her message of hope. 

Kellye resides in East Atlanta with her husband Keith.  She has 4 daughters and 3 grandchildren.  She is an active member of The Tabernacle Church.  In her spare time she loves traveling, spending time with her husband and daughters, shopping, and simply enjoying coffee with friends. 



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