Tips For Summer Workouts
Get Ready for the Heat
By Tessa Thomas
Summer is coming and with that many of us will be spending much more time outdoors – walking, running, hiking, soccer, basketball, volleyball, bootcamp or park workouts – once the heat hits there’s nothing like getting outside to have fun and soak up some rays. To get you ready for a summer full of activities, let’s take a look at how the body deals with heat and what you can do to get the best out of your summer workouts.
The body uses four different methods to remove heat: evaporation, convection, radiation, and conduction.
Evaporation is essentially the removal of heat through sweating, but the removal of heat from evaporation is actually dependent on the humidity in the air and at 50% humidity, or above, evaporation becomes a fairly ineffective method of removing heat from the body, you may be sweating, but you’re still very hot – many of us are likely very familiar with this phenomenon.
With convection, heat is lost when you move through a current, such as walking through a cool mist – Sprite Zone anyone? Heat loss by radiation occurs when heat is given off by your body and is absorbed by the environment that you are in. And lastly, conduction is the transfer of heat to another object through touch, such as placing your hand on a cold bottle of water or an ice pack to cool off. While all of these methods are helpful and effective in their own ways, one of the best things you can do to help your body deal with the heat is to be proactive instead of reactive.
Did you know that it can take up to two weeks for your body to fully adapt to increases in heat exposure? 1 Before beginning to train or play at full volume it is important to acclimatize to the heat. For example, if you are planning on playing in a beach volleyball tournament over a weekend this summer, try to get out and practice or train at least a few times in the weeks leading up to the event, gradually increasing practice time and intensity until the event. It may sound like overkill, you’re just going out to play in a tournament with some friends, but why risk heat exhaustion, or worse yet heatstroke, when both can typically be avoided by first acclimatizing to the heat.
Another great way to prepare for summer workouts or activities in the heat is to adhere to a simple hydration schedule:
Due to the increase in body temperature, heat can reduce your desire to eat. To avoid training or competing on an empty stomach due to the heat try one of the following strategies to help fuel your summer activities:
- Increase the caloric content of fluids used to rehydrate, instead of drinking only water try adding a smoothie or protein shake into the mix
- Eat more easily digestible foods as snacks between meals, they will require less energy to digest and your body will produce less heat digesting them – ripe bananas, peaches and plums are examples of foods that can help in this way3
It should be mentioned that it is possible to overhydrate – hyponatremia occurs when there is an abnormally low concentration of sodium in the blood due to the dilution of sodium concentration through the overconsumption of water combined with the loss of sodium through sweating.4 If you are planning to participate in an endurance event exceeding 4 hours, it is advised that every 240 mL of fluid consumed be accompanied by at least 200 mg of sodium.5
Again, the best way to get the most out of your summer workouts is to be proactive – acclimatize to the heat, stick to a hydration schedule, increase the caloric content of fluids used to rehydrate, and consume easily digestible snacks between meals. As always, be safe, have fun, and enjoy that summer sun!
1 Korey Stringer Institute – University of Connecticut, “Heat Acclimitization.” http://ksi.uconn.edu/prevention/heat-acclimatization/
2 Austin, Krista and Bob Seebohar, Performance Nutrition: Applying the Science of Nutrient Timing. 149. 2011. Human Kinetics
3 Performance Nutrition, 149
4 Montain, Scott J., “Hydration Recommendations for Sport 2008.” Current Sports Medicine Reports (2008) 7: (4) 187-192
5 Performance Nutrition, 150
Disclaimer: Good Read Magazine and its contributors are not responsible in any manner for any injuries that may occur through following the instructions contained in this material; this article is solely for information and educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a medical or health professional before beginning any exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.