A friend recently expressed concern about difficulty she was having completing her usual 2 hour bike ride. Although she’s been regularly riding for years, the past few sessions on the bike have proven to be particularly grueling for her. She’s troubled by the fact that despite her best efforts at regular aerobic activity, the goal of increased physical fitness seems to have eluded her. The truth is her conditioning hasn’t changed and is still improving. Extreme summer heat and sticky air add to the challenges put on the body by exercise. It’s difficult to accomplish the same amount of physical work at the same intensity in harsh environmental conditions.
Soaring temperatures and high humidity can make outdoor training extremely challenging. Your everyday bike ride can suddenly feel like completing the Tour De France. Your heart has to work harder in the heat, so less aerobic power can get you to the same Heartrate Max. Replacing fluids and carbohydrates lost through daily exercise should be a top priority. Without them, you’ll feel exhausted and zapped of energy. Luckily, research shows it takes only 12-14 days for your cardiovascular and thermoregulatory systems to physically adapt or “acclimatize” to the heat. Follow the suggestions below to train safely this summer.
Hot Weather Exercise Tips:
Train at a lower exercise intensity. Hot weather is not an excuse to abandon your fitness program. You can still walk, jog or ride a bike at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
Drink water before, during and after exercise. Appropriate water and electrolyte balance is critical to the function of your muscles. If you’re training for more than an hour, consider a sports drink or snack high in potassium and other nutrients. It’s important to drink BEFORE becoming thirsty.
Dress in light UV protected clothing and don’t forget the sunscreen. Your body absorbs heat which can further elevate your body temperature. Keep the sun off your skin as much as possible.
Start your physical recovery as soon as you arrive home from your activity. Drink a few glasses of H2O and snack on hydrating foods. Some of my favorites include: watermelon, cantaloupe, and yogurts. Continue to replace lost fluids for several hours and sometimes into the next day.