Exercising in hot weather increases our body temperature. Our bodies do have built-in cooling systems that help us adjust to heat. That’s why we perspire. However, this natural cooling system can fail if we’re exposed to soaring temperatures for too long. The result may be heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.
To keep cool, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Since our bodies are about 60% water, it is vital to maintain this amount. We tend to lose about 2 to 3% during typical exercise and activity, especially on hot days. And while you’re exercising, carry a bottle of water with you and have a few gulps at regular intervals. Don't forget to drink more water after exercise also.
How do I know if I’m drinking enough water?
A good way to know that you’re hydrating properly is by checking the color of your urine. If it’s pale yellow (think lemonade), you’re well hydrated. If it’s darker (like the color of apple juice), drink more.But do be aware that some medications and supplements alter the color of urine, so this gauge, while good for many, does not work for everyone. To be safe, do drink the recommended 8 to 10 glasses of water (1.5 L) /day.
Sport drinks should only be considered if you’re of ideal body weight and exercising for long durations at high intensities. Even then, it’s a good idea to dilute sport drinks to avoid excessive calorie consumption.
Eating fruits and vegetables during exercise will provide enough electrolytes for the body. Fruits to consider are bananas or orange or vegetables like celery.
What are electrolytes? Electrolytes are important nutrients for our bodies as they play key roles in sending electrical impulses that influence our heart, muscles and nerves. They also play an important role in fluid balance and hydration in our cells, tissues, and our muscles. Lack of sufficient electrolytes can contribute to muscle cramps, delayed muscle soreness and spasms following exercise and for some can contribute to headaches.
You'll be amazed at how the heat and humidity can quickly ware you down particularly if you've previously been exercising during the colder period. If you normally run, then jog or walk. If you’re a brisk walker, slow it down. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the pace and length of your workout. If you have a medical condition and/or take prescribed medicine do check with your GP if you need to take any additional precautions.
Get up early to catch the cool of the morning, or go out at sunset or later.
Dark colors absorb the heat, which can make you feel as if you’re wrapped in a warm blanket. Heavyweight, tight-fitting clothing will also heat you up. Keep it loose. Keep it light. More air will be able to circulate over your skin, keeping you cool.
But pick juicy snacks like fruit. The last thing you need in scorching heat are dry snacks like crackers, popcorn, or energy bars that require your body to add water. Plus, dry snacks are often dense with calories, which means they can easily foil weight-loss goals, summer or winter.
Never push yourself to the extent your health suffers. If you’re feeling any of the following, find air-conditioned comfort fast.
Remember that even a 20-minute workout has positive health effects. It’s the number of days you exercise that matters most. Frequency of days far outweighs the amount of time of any given exercise session.
Above all be happy, stay safe, keep well.
Abigail Morakinyo has also been shortlisted for the 'Mum and Working' Award and has reached the final.
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