With Memorial Day behind us, the pools are open and summer weather is here, especially here in the South! In fact, I don’t even remember Spring. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in 10k race here in Richmond, sponsored by a fantastic organization, The Richmond Road Runners Club. The Stratford Hills 10k takes place on the Sunday morning over Memorial Day weekend, and is a gorgeous course. It starts off in just outside Richmond, in a residential neighborhood bordering the James River. The first mile is downhill, dropping down to the river, while miles 2-5 are a relatively flat course offering very scenic views of the river. Of course, when there is a downhill, there is always an uphill and this offered a very challenging 90ft climb in the final mile of the race. Let’s just say I don’t need to do leg day today! Overall, it was a gorgeous race, and with small numbers registered, it felt very intimate, like you were running with friends. The one drawback this morning – the temperature was 78 degrees and nearly 90% humidity. Luckily, there was cloud cover, but it was oppressive. So, how do you cope in this hot weather? What are the best ways to beat the heat and stay active in the hot weather?
Exercising in Hot Weather – What Happens to Your Body
Clearly the hot weather adds stress to your body. In order to cool your core temperature, your body sends more blood to the skin. Therefore, your muscles have less blood to circulate which means your heart rate goes up even higher. Add high humidity to the mix, and your body can’t sweat and cool itself, so your body temperature goes even higher. Ugh.
To avoid heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke, please heed the warning signs, which can include muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, weakness, fatigue, headache, dizziness, excessive sweatiness, irritability, confusion, low blood pressure, high heart rate, and visual problems. If any of these symptoms arise, stop exercising and cool your body. Hydrate, remove clothing and make sure someone stays with you if you become disoriented or have mental incapacity.
Ways to Exercise in Hot Weather
- Stay hydrated!!! Drink up before, during and after, even when you don’t feel thirsty. The American Council of Exercise recommends consuming 16-24 ounces of water before exercising in hot temperatures, as well as consuming 6-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during physical activity. And if you are really sweating out, grab a coconut water or sports drink to replenish those electrolytes. And keep that drink really cold with our favorite water bottle, the Hydroflask.
- Dress appropriately. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored, lightweight clothing.
- Watch the sun. Try to avoid direct sunlight, seek the shade, and most importantly use sunscreen.
- Slow down. Go easy on your workout. Slow down your intensity if you feel taxed. Don’t let it get to the point of heat exhaustion.
- Watch the clock. Choose to exercise at cooler times of the day – early morning or late in the evening.
- Cool down. It is critical that you take the time to really cool down after an intense workout in hot weather. Absolutely do not sit down right away; walk around to continue to circulate the blood in your body for at least 20 minutes. This will allow the blood to all parts of your body to avoid dizziness, nausea or lightheadedness.
So get out there this summer, enjoy the heat, and sweat it out.