Staying Healthy All Season Long
Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team
Staying active is a must for your health, but so is being mindful when you head outside to meet your fitness goals.
Warmer weather has an uncanny ability to beckon many of us to get outside to play more often. As you become more active, there are important factors to consider. High temperatures and humidity can zap your energy, hydration and overstress your body before you even consider adding exercise into the mix. Exacerbate these symptoms with being active and you’ll be at risk for a heat-related illness such as cramping, exercise-related heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Here are tips for keeping your health in check while improving your fitness level all season long.*
If you love getting your heart pumping with cardio exercise, when you do it is just as key as if you do it during the summer months. One workaround to consider when doing cardio workouts outside in the summer is to begin earlier or later than normal. For example, if you’re a lunch break runner, consider rising earlier than normal to begin your day with a run at 5 am or heading on a well-lit bike path once the sun sets.
Between water, electrolytes and blood sugar, there are a number of things to keep in mind before working out outdoors. Typically, activity under an hour in temperate conditions wouldn’t warrant more than water in your squeeze bottle. Add in 80 degree+ temperatures and humidity you could cut with a knife and your body is going to need more than good ol’ H2O.
The best practice is to go into your workout hydrated and not hungry. If you’re exercising first thing in the morning, make sure you go to bed with your hydration replenished. Wake up and consider eating or drinking a quick source of carbohydrates like a snack mix of dried fruit and cereal paired with water or 4 to 8 ounces 100% juice such as apple juice.
Maintain your hydration and blood sugar level as you work out. Fill your bottle with a sports drink that replenishes electrolytes like potassium, sodium and calcium that will also provide some sugar. These nutrients will help your muscles to continue to contract while also ensuring your innate cooling system of sweating works.
If you’re training for a competitive event, intensity is a necessary aspect of improving performance. If you’re a weekend warrior keeping up an exercise routine to stay healthy, focusing on intensity may not be necessary, or even helpful, during the dog days of summer.
Let your body be your guide on how intense you work out, but know there’s nothing to gain with painful workouts that leave your body depleted the rest of the day. For high intensity, consider getting outside as the sun rises or bringing the most intense parts of your weekly workouts inside to an air-conditioned gym, if possible.
Remember, just like all things, summer heat and humidity will pass. You’ll be back to higher intensity workouts, outdoors, at any time of day, in no time. For the time being, let overall health be your lead so you stay fit enough to continue working out in the next season…and the next.
*Starting (or restarting) a regular exercise regimen? Remember to always receive clearance from your healthcare provider beforehand!