Know when to ease up, especially if you’re traveling this summer to climates you’re unaccustomed to typically. If you’re used to working out in cooler temperatures, accept the fact that you probably won’t be able to exercise at the intensity you normally do.
If you normally run, walk or jog. 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 prescription medications, do ask your physician if you need to take any additional precautions.
Avoid the hottest part of the day. Rise early to catch the cool of the morning, or go out at sunset or later. In the heat of midday (typically between 10 am and 4 pm) take cover under shade. Jump in a pool. Sign up for an aqua-aerobics class. And carry a fan/spray bottle for skin surface cooling.
Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing. 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.
Be sure to apply sunblock – UVA/UVB preferably with titanium or zinc dioxide, or at least avobenzene. Reapply at two-hour intervals, even if the labels have sweat proof and water proof claims that are hours longer. Many of these “long-lasting” claims are currently under investigation. Sunburn increases the risk of premature skin aging, and increases your risk of skin cancer. Another good way to decrease sun exposure is to wear wide-brimmed hats.
The Biggest Do’s and Don’ts When it Comes to Heat Wave Hydration
Exercising in hot weather increases our body temperature. Sure, our bodies have built-in cooling systems that help us adjust to heat. That’s why we perspire. But this natural cooling system can fail if we’re exposed to soaring temperatures for too long. The result may be heat exhaustion – that awful fatigue that makes you feel as if one more step could be your last – and even heat stroke.
If the humidity is also way up, you’re in double trouble because your sweat “sticks” to your skin; it doesn’t evaporate as readily, which can send body temperature even higher.
To keep cool, make sure first of all that you’re drinking plenty of water. Since our bodies are about 50 to 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. Because the Pritikin Eating Plan, full of fruits and vegetables, is so rich in water, you do not need to drink water before your workout, but while you’re exercising, drink 8 to 10 ounces of water every 20 minutes. After exercise, drink more – at minimum, another 8 ounces.
Another great way to help re-hydrate during a break in physical activity is to eat a piece of fruit, such as an apple or orange, or even carrots or celery sticks. The fruit or veggies will also help replace valuable electrolyte loss.
Keep Track of Your Hydration Levels
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 (heading toward 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 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of activity.
Don’t Drink Too Much
Be careful not to drink too much water, called overhydration. It can lead to a problem called hyponatremia (low blood sodium). The Pritikin Eating Plan provides enough sodium for active individuals and also provides at least half of the water needed. Bottom line: Drink during and after exercise and other physical activities. At other times of the day, drink when thirsty.
Steer Clear of Sports Drinks. They’re Loaded with Calories
Sports drinks are not worth the caloric weight. The Pritikin Eating Plan maintains high carbohydrate stores (glycogen). There is no need for additional supplementation.
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 provides ample electrolytes for the body, even further decreasing the need for high-calorie sport drinks.
Keep in mind that the cause of muscle cramping is most often caused by dehydration, not as often from low electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, calcium), low salt intake or low sugar intake. So, rather than eating excessive amounts of bananas or salty or sugary snacks, increase your water intake, even if you don’t feel thirsty. (Use the urine-color-tracking tip described above to monitor your hydration levels.)
About the Author
This article was written by Danine Fruge, M.D. Dr. Fruge is the Associate Medical Director at Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami, FL.