Sunny days and warm weather draw even infrequent exercisers outside in summertime.
Every workout feels harder in the heat, but Iowa’s hot and humid season can make exercise feel overwhelming. Vigorous activity in these conditions can also be dangerous, leading to heat stress, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other conditions. With a little caution and creativity, you can stop the sun from scorching your summer workout plans.
• Be flexible with your workouts. Monitor the local forecast to find the coolest time during the day and adjust your schedule to exercise then. Or split up your workouts to avoid being in the heat too long.
“When it’s hot and humid, it’s important to be flexible with your workouts,” says Joy Schiller, wellness director at Des Moines University. “If you don’t mind a little rain, exercising during light showers can be very refreshing.”
• Choose a cooler location. Venture away from the hot city sidewalks and take advantage of the many recreation trails around Des Moines. Shade from trees along the trail or the breeze coming off rivers and lakes will help keep your temperature down. If the heat and humidity is too much to bear, mix things up by going for a swim.
• Dress for the weather. Shorts, T-shirts and tank tops are obvious choices for exercising on a hot, sunny day, but the type of fabric is equally important in keeping you cool. Schiller recommends lightweight, breathable, wicking clothes for your warm weather workouts. Moisture-wicking fabrics draw sweat away from the skin and allow it to evaporate. This evaporation helps maintain your body temperature so you don’t overheat.
• Stay hydrated. Working out in high temps leads to more sweat. That means your body is losing more water — up to twice as much as a normal day. Replenishing those fluids is critical to avoiding heat-related illnesses.
“Drink water all throughout the day, not just right before and after exercising,” advises Schiller. “It’s recommended you drink four to eight ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout as well.”
The summer sun can be a beast, but don’t let it deter you from enjoying your exercise outdoors. By taking proper precautions, you can defeat the heat and keep cool in your workouts all summer long.
Information provided by Des Moines University Clinic, 3200 Grand Ave., 271-1700.