Get Fit in the Heat
Monday, June 20, 2016
Green Bay may be best known as the “Frozen Tundra,” but make no mistake about it, we suffer through our share of hot summer days. As we transition from comfortable spring temperatures to a mix of summer heat and humidity, we must be properly prepared for exercising outdoors.
It is great to take advantage of the many outdoor activities available throughout the area. Summer offers many 5k fun runs, hardcore mud runs, charity bike rides, and more. With peak temperatures right around the corner, consider the following tips before you head outside for your next workout or event.
Know your abilities and limitations – Adjust your training variables according to what you are physically capable of completing. Plan your workouts around safe distances and intensities. If you are not able to finish the workout in mild temps, consider reducing the distance or intensity to a level you will be able to safely complete.
Smart scheduling – Modify your training schedule to perform your outdoor activities in the early morning or later evening. Temperatures at these times will be relatively lower than mid-day and early afternoon. Lower humidity and temperatures will reduce your perceived effort, allowing you to work harder for longer.
Wear sunscreen – Protect your skin and reduce your risk of sunburn and skin cancer by applying sunscreen generously and often. Spending this extra time before you head outside will ensure your activity or exercise is both safe and enjoyable. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors, which is plenty of time for a proper warmup.
Dress appropriately – Wear light colored clothing that breathes well. Consider sleeveless or vented tops. Avoid classic cotton shorts as they retain heat and moisture. Invest in well-fitting and breathable socks to improve your comfort and reduce sweat levels to prevent blisters. Similar to using sunscreen, your apparel may not directly improve your performance, but it will certainly improve your experience.
Stay hydrated! – Keep your body physically prepared for the challenges associated with the heat and humidity by being well hydrated prior to your workouts and fitness events. Proper nutrition and hydration in the days leading up to your event will ensure your muscles, tissues, and organs are fully prepared to work hard. For those training and/or competing multiple times per week, planning ahead can take considerable attention, but the benefits far outweigh the performance deficits.
Have a safety plan – Do your family and friends know you are heading outside for a workout? Do they know your route? Alert one or two local contacts and choose public routes to take on days with elevated temperatures and humidity. Wear identification gear, such as Road ID, to provide others with necessary information in case of emergency.
Summer heat and humidity do not have to ruin your outdoor fitness plans. Take the proper time to be prepared, and your fitness level and confidence will be rising right along with the mercury.
Nick Rozek Greater Green Bay YMCA
Workplace Wellness Coordinator & Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist