Tips for Hot Weather Workouts
Posted Monday, 9 August, 2004
Kathrine Switzer is the author of Running and Walking for Women Over 40 (St. martin’s Press), an Emmy-award winning TV commentator and a former winner of the New York City Marathon. This is second in a series of her proven tips to encourage women to Take Fitness to Heart.
Running and walking are excellent ways to stay fit year-round – even during hot summer months. However, it is important to make some changes in your exercise routine to ensure your well-being and safety during the warmer weather. Kathrine Switzer offers the following tips to help you maintain your fitness level and achieve maximum enjoyment of your summer workout.
Exercise in the coolest hours. Run or walk during the cooler parts of the day—early morning or early evening.
Make water your constant companion. Drink water all day long. Sports drinks that replace electrolytes are also good. One cause of overheating is dehydration –without sufficient water, you do not perspire sufficiently and therefore do not cool enough. Drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day and carry a water bottle on your run or walk; keep a water jug in the refrigerator; keep a glass on your desk or on the kitchen counter; set an alarm during the day to remind yourself.
Map out your route for water. Plan a running route that has water stops; park fountains, spigots outside buildings, neighbor’s hoses, or your own. Consider an “out and back” circuit in your neighborhood, stopping at home for water, or go out in advance and place water bottles along your route.
Protect your skin. Wear waterproof sun protection of at least SPF 15. Especially good for lips, nose, and ears are sun protection sticks. Use bug repellant to protect against ticks and mosquitoes if you are in grassy areas, woods, or mosquito-prone areas. Remember even on cloudy days, the sun reaches your skin and it is estimated that 85% of the visible signs of aging are actually sun damage. Always wear a hat or visor to keep sun off your face.
Dress for the weather. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing made with the new generation of polyester fabrics that are designed to wick the seat from your skin and help keep you cool and comfortable.
Regulate your cotton. Cotton is still a favorite for T-shirts, but cotton can get very soggy and hold moisture on your skin, not allowing it to evaporate and cool your body. Wear cotton in more temperate weather.
Wear as little clothing as possible. Wear loose shorts with a built-in panty and a sports bra. If you feel conspicuous in only shorts and a sports bra, wear a loose top over the bra. In New York City, women often wear the top over the bra while in the streets, but when they hit the park, they often take off their top. Tuck the shirt in the back of your shorts, or ball it up and run with it in your hand.
Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses with UVSA/UVB protection to reduce sun glare.
Protect your feet. Sprinkle an absorbent power on your fee and in your running shoes to stay more comfortable (this works great for every day shoes, too!) Run cold water over your feet after a workout, to reduce heat, swelling and early blisters. Invest in Cool-Max or blister-free socks.
Keep your body cool.On hot, humid days, you need to slow down and wet your body as often as possible. Spray your body with water to keep cool. Every time you pass someone with a hose, ask them to spray you, or splash yourself from a water fountain or tap.
Keep your head cool. Wear a white hat (such as a painters hat form the hardware store) and cut holes in it. Fill your hat with ice as you start your run, or just wet your hair with cold water before you begin your workout. You can also carry a wet washcloth packed with four ice cubes, which will last nearly a half-hour. Press the cubes to your face and the back of your neck. Keep the washcloth cold by saturating it with cool water whenever you find a water source on your route.
Severely limit your intake of alcohol, coffee, tea and colas when you exercise. These beverages are very dehydrating, so when you drink them, you are losing valuable liquids instead of replacing them. As you run or walk, you are sweating the already reduced fluids, creating more stress and overheating your system. Whenever you drink alcohol, match it with double the amount of water, and match every one glass of caffeine beverages with one glass of water.
Know the danger signs. Most importantly, watch out for symptoms of heat exhaustion and stop if they occur; call for help if these symptoms do not improve:
- Dizziness, light-headedness, disorientation, nausea
- Goose bumps on your skin
- Skin turns noticeably pale
- You suddenly slow down to a crawl for no apparent reason
Can’t stop Sweating? Finish off your warm post-exercise shower with an increasingly cool rinse.
Just Can’t Handle the Heat? Take to the air conditioned gym and the treadmills, or hit the Mall early in the morning and join the Mall Walkers. Don’t try to be some kind of hero if you feel miserable. It’s most important to be safe and have a good experience.
This is the second in a series of tips appearing on Cool Running on a regular basis, written by Kathrine Switzer. Kathrine's web page is now online, is a great read and can be found at www.kathrineswitzer.com.