Temperatures across the country are rising, and this summer, they’re reaching dangerous levels. Whether you’re playing school sports or just like to keep active, you can still train and keep yourself safe in the summer heat at the same time. Take precautions with your health and fitness during the summer heat.
This summary of recommendations comes from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Red Cross. Where you live in the country is going to affect which of these recommendations are right for you. Also keep in mind that age and fitness level play key roles, as well.
Acclimation to the Summer Heat
If you’re beginning to train in the heat, be sure to allow your body to acclimate over a period of 10 to 14 days. Gradually, with time, your body will get used to it, but it’s important to allow time to taper up your workout. If you know that you’re going to a competition in the heat, try to train ahead of time to prepare yourself.
Practice When It’s Cool
If you’re able to, try to train during cooler parts of the day. For instance, if you’re a runner, run in the morning or evening instead of in the middle of the day. Ride your bike to work in the morning and then bring the bike on the bus to come home. The time of day makes a big difference in the heat factor.
Dressing for Success
What you wear is key in terms of keeping your body cool. Be sure to always wear breathable, light-colored clothing. There are a number of brands that make products with mesh, and these are very useful. Also, consider buying some sunscreen tops to protect your arms and shoulders. These specially-designed garments will block UV rays.
Start Out Slow
If you absolutely have to train at a certain time of day that is hot because you’re on a team, be sure to take it easy at first and increase your intensity as you go along. This is another form of acclimation that will help your body to get used to the environment. Also, if your sport requires you to wear equipment, try to take some off during breaks to allow your body to cool.
Never Be Alone
If you’re training or simply going for a run, be sure that you’re never alone. Should the symptoms of heat illness come along and there’s no one with you, it’s going to be impossible to reach out for medical assistance if needed. When you do wish to go out alone, make sure that you’re in a public area where you can always get help.
Consider Your Health History
If you are recovering from a recent illness, working out in the heat is a bad idea. Illnesses like gastrointestinal problems can lead to fast dehydration. If your body is strong and healthy, it’s going to handle the heat better than if it’s on the mend.
Hydration for Health
In a word, this is the most important tip of them all. Staying hydrated, no matter what you’re doing, is the key to success. This pertains to before, during, and after practice. For an extra boost, add electrolytes multiple times a day, if necessary, to prevent too much fluid loss. It’s not uncommon for marathon runners to take salt pills the evening before a hot race.
On this same note, keep in mind that alcohol is incredibly dehydrating. Try to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages if you know that you’re going to be training hard. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well, as these contain a lot of natural water to add to hydration.
Weigh Yourself Before and After Practice
This is a wonderful way to see just how much water you’re losing while you train. If you’re losing an exceptional amount of weight, this is a good sign that you’re sweating a lot and not re-hydrating properly. Keep weighing yourself until you get the balance right and you know how much fluid you need.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
This cannot be emphasized enough. Sometimes, you wanna play the tough guy and pretend like there isn’t a problem at practice, even if you’re not feeling well. At the first signs of feeling unwell, it’s crucial that you tell your coach at once. It takes courage to speak up, and your team would much rather have you on the field than in the hospital.
Understanding the signs of heat illness can not only save your life but also the life of someone you care for. Learn to read the heat index, understand proper nutrition and hydration, and be able to spot the very first signs of heat illness before it turns into something really serious. Check out this related article: Tips to Stay Cool When You Are Playing in the Heat.
Switch up your Game
A lot of this may seem like common sense, but as they say, common sense isn’t so common. Heat levels are more dangerous than ever before, and athletes and fitness enthusiasts need to be in the know. Maybe you’re an avid runner, but you decide to swim instead during the summer. This is a fantastic idea for protecting yourself. Perhaps the day is too hot for basketball. How about trying your hand at some indoor basketball or even learning something new, like racquetball? Follow these tips for your health and fitness during the summer heat. Try the Plan2Play mobile app to find new activities and people to do them with.