Summer months give us additional factors that need to be considered when participating in fitness and sports activities in warmer weather. Heat exhaustion can sneak up on you without you knowing it until it’s too late. Prevention and being proactive are the best ways to avoid heat exhaustion when competing in sports events or pushing yourself during a challenging outdoor workout. Here are some tips to prevent heat exhaustion during workouts:
- Stay hydrated. This sounds like an easy task, but you would be surprised how many individuals forget to drink or choose not to drink because they do not feel thirsty. Advanced fitness nutrition teaches us that if we wait until we feel thirsty, we are already dehydrated. Being mindful of the amount of fluid you are taking in can help prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion.
- Set a timer to remind you to replenish electrolytes. Electrolytes are the vitamins and minerals in our body, such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium, that help regulate our fluids and absorption of fluids. Electrolytes can be taken in the form of an energy gel, stick, powder, or sports drink. Many runners and endurance athletes will take electrolytes every hour or every four miles. Setting a timer to beep at you can be a reminder to take in electrolytes to stay safe.
- Reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine has been associated with increased risk for heat exhaustion. Caffeine can speed up your heart rate, making your body feel like it’s working harder than it is. Hot temperatures can do the same thing. Combining caffeine with heat training can put extra stress on your body and increase the risks of succumbing to heat related illnesses. If you must have your coffee in the mornings, switch to decaf before you start your workout.
- Wear looser fitted clothing. Looser fitted clothing allows the skin to breathe and can protect the skin better from the sun. Consider safety over fashion when choosing summer workout clothes.
- Reduce effort levels in the heat of the day. Take it easy in the afternoon hours when the sun is at its hottest for the day. Many runners will slow their pace down by up to a minute per mile to accommodate the heat. It will feel like the same effort because your body works harder to regulate itself in the summer heat. Slowing down your pace can help prevent you from overheating, thus reducing your risks of heat exhaustion.
Summer training can sometimes be challenging due to the warmer temperatures. A health and wellness consultant or a personal trainer nutritionist can help you make positive changes to your workout routines to help prevent heat exhaustion. Personal trainer education online and certifications for trainers can all be resourceful tools for managing summer fitness and heat training.