Summertime Survival Tips
It’s August and those lazy, crazy days of summer are still here. Or should I say those lazy, crazy, HOT days of summer? By this time of year, it’s normal to be just a little fed up with the heat and longing for the cooling temperatures of autumn. Unfortunately, we’re still a month or more away.
These days it’s easy to just forget altogether about being outside and exercising instead of figuring out how to cope with the heat. However, the Hill Country has a huge advantage over many other places in the South in that our mornings begin cool and often cloudy, making mornings outside quite pleasant. So, when it comes to physical activity, there is a proper time and place – no excuses! Let me give you a few tips to help you survive – and even thrive – through the rest of the summer.
When To Do It
Early morning is obviously the coolest part of the day, so take advantage of it. Physical exertion at midday can often lead to dehydration and other heat related illnesses, especially if your body is not conditioned to the heat. Other reasons to plan your workout in the morning:
- It’s finished before other activities get in the way
- It will give you more energy the rest of the day
- It will get your metabolism going early, helping with weight loss
What To Do
Summer activity choices are nearly endless. Without even leaving Comanche Trace, you can participate in golf, tennis, and swimming – there is something for everyone! The walking and running gravel paths are longing to be used, as are the many streets with their welcoming homes and beautiful views.
Bicycling in the neighborhood or throughout the Hill Country is great in the summer. The winds generally are calmer than much of the rest of the year, making for a more pleasant ride.
Swimming is, of course, an activity that just shouts summer. Not only is the water extremely refreshing but it is the one activity that can be done with relative safety almost any time of the day. A word of caution about the pool, though: as fun as it is to just get in the water and visit with your friends, that is really not exercise! Seriously! You need to get that heart rate up for an extended amount of time (20 – 30 minutes) in order to make it count. Try lap swimming mixed with water walking in order to see some fitness benefits.
What to Wear
Just as warm clothing is necessary when the weather is cold, cool clothing is necessary now. By cool clothing, I am referring to sweat wicking fabrics. There is a wide array of workout clothing designed for hot weather, all meant to help sweat evaporate, keeping you cooler. Cotton clothing should be avoided as it absorbs sweat, making clothes heavy and uncomfortable. Look for this fabric even in socks, as cotton socks are the wrong choice for comfortable, blister-free feet.
Sun-sleeves are a relatively new accessory, but one with many benefits. Because the arms are often the most exposed skin on our bodies, they frequently have significant sun damage. Sun-sleeves are made with SPF fabric, making your arms feel cooler and dryer than if they were uncovered.
A hat and sunglasses are also important. Cool, breathable hats with wide brims will keep your head cool and sun off your face and neck. Make sure your sunglasses have lenses with UV protection. Eye damage can occur even at an early age when sunglasses are not worn on a regular basis.
Eating and Drinking
Staying hydrated is probably the most important safety factor for exercising in the heat. Since our body weight is 70% water, meeting the need for fluid replenishment is critical. Drink about a cup of water for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise, more if you are exercising in heat. Avoid dehydration by drinking before you’re thirsty – drink on a regular basis. Use a sports drink only if you plan to exercise for more than an hour. The extra calories are not justified for smaller bouts of exercise. It’s also important to continue to drink water after you finish exercising. The body needs to replace the water it lost through perspiration.
Here's a tip to see if you're dehydrated:If your urine is darker than usual, you are dehydrated and you should continue to force fluids – mostly water. We tend to crave lighter foods in the summer for good reason. Heavy, rich foods are more difficult to digest in hotter conditions, so stick to fresh, cooler foods such as salads, in season fruits, and grilled fish and chicken.
Ease into Summer
The most important thing to remember is that exercising in the heat is harder on your body than indoor exercise. The body needs to send more blood to the skin to keep you cooler, resulting in increased heart rate. It won’t take long to get to a higher intensity than normal, which can leave you feeling much more exhausted than usual. So, be sure to do these three things: 1. Start slowly. Lengthen your warm-up to let your body adjust to the intensity. 2. Shorten your workout. Since intensity is higher than normal, you need to shorten the time your heart rate is in that elevated state until you become accustomed to it. 3. Listen to your body. If you feel faint, light-headed, or much more tired than usual, stop what you’re doing. Head for the shade and drink fluids.
KEEP UP THE EXERCISE, BUT DO IT SAFELY!