By Golda Smith
Perhaps I should have written this weeks ago but I’m doing it now so I hope that’s all right. One thing I love about the warmer weather is being able to train outdoors. Doesn’t matter if it’s running, yoga, strength training or whatever my mind comes up with. The down side is that it’s not just warm here in New York (aka, the Concrete Jungle), it’s obnoxiously HOT! Like, beat you down heat! Like just step out of the shower and you need to jump right back in there to cool off HOT. With that being said, it doesn’t stop me or my fellow New Yorkers from taking our workouts outdoors but there are definitely some things you can do to make sure that while you are getting your sweat on, you are doing it safely.
Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dizziness and vomiting are all to common when the temperature rises and while we sometimes know better, that doesn’t always translate into putting that knowledge into practice.
Here are my five tips for safely working out in the heat (and humidity). This list is by no means all there is to it, but it’s what I have at this moment while I’m sitting in an air conditioned room and my mind is clear.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Seems obvious, right? You would be surprised how many times I have to have clients go purchased water because they didn’t bring any. Yes, you should begin hydrating as soon as your day begins but you also want to hydrate throughout your workout because when you sweat, your body is not only releasing fluids but also necessary electrolytes. Just stay away from those sugary sports drinks. Instead, you may want to try coconut water OR even adding a pinch or two of sea salt to your water and if you can get alkaline water that would be great too.
This may seem counter intuitive but one of the best ways to get used to training in the heat is to train in the heat. I always used to watch the NYC Marathon and wonder why all the winners were African. How could they run so fast when it’s so hot where they live and then it dawned on me that they are used to training in the heat. Start off with maybe 15 minutes…depending on your level of conditioning and what you are working on and gradually increase your time outdoors. Your body will adjust.
Consider your medications
Something I am not sure many people consider is ANY medication they may be taking, especially if it has anything to do with your heart or respiratory system. We train to get stronger, not to drop dead from a heat stroke. If you have a history of stroke or high blood pressure, then please exercise with extreme caution.
Stay in the shade
Do your best to find a nice shady spot. When I run, I always look for tree lined streets or head to the park and hit the trails because I can enjoy my run without the sun beating on my body. Your skin is your largest organ so you will also want to protect it with a good quality sun screen. Wearing a hat may also help, just be sure that your hat allows for heat to escape from your head. Nothing worse than training outdoors, than to feel yourself over heating because your head is getting hotter and hotter by the minute and sweat is pouring down your face!
Don’t be a BADASS
Go hard or go home does not apply here. Social media will have you doing all kinds of tricks to feel pretty badass and there is a time and place for everything. However, when it’s a scorching 88 degress that isn’t the time to go for a personal record in your 5k. Adjust your training with the temperature, humidity and YOUR level of fitness. Use the brains God gave you, slow down and remember that you are there to get a quick effective workout.
If at ANY time you feel dizzy, faint, nausea, or just fatigue then those are excellent signs that you should stop your workout and get indoors or at least find some shade and drink some fluids, preferably plain water, water with added electrolytes or coconut water. Unless you are a professional athlete and this is your job then there is no need to put your health at risk. Actually, no one should put their health at risk. As I mentioned, this list is by no means exhaustive so feel free to share any hot weather safety tips you follow and no, not working out isn’t an option…nice try though, lol.