Summer Workouts & Sports

Summer offers the tempting opportunity to ramp up your sport or exercise. You’ve likely heard about “safety in the sun”, such as not over- exerting in extreme temperatures, drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and wearing cool clothing and sunscreen. Here are some details on those tips to strengthen your knowledge, and ease your adjustment to summer.

*Recognize your need to adjust. The shift to hot temperatures can be quite sudden, yet your body needs about two weeks to truly acclimatize to exercising in the heat. This can be problematic for those athletes on teams, who cannot always regulate their own training and competition. Parents and coaches need to work closely with youth athletes to make sure they are being mindful of the need for caution in the heat.

*Spend time warming up. Even though your body feels the heat, your muscles need the gradual activity to get the blood pumping to ready you for activity.

*Drink before, during and after working out, but don’t overdrink. While the rule of thumb is 8 ounces of fluid (preferably water, but some sports drink is fine, and necessary for exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes) for every 20 minutes of activity, and staying hydrated throughout the day, too much fluid can lead to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia. Mostly associated with endurance events such as marathons or triathlons, hyopnatremia in exercisers is caused by drinking excessive amounts of water which causes a low concentration of sodium in the blood. So, calculate your fluid needs accurately, and add a sports drink or salty foods to your diet if necessary for balance.

*Use sunscreen, a full ounce per application (size of a shot glass), and apply it also where the sun doesn’t shine. That’s right—unless you are wearing special sun protection clothing, which most of us don’t, the sun’s dangerous rays can penetrate your t-shirt for example. Also, don’t count on sunscreen for ultimate protection, wear a hat or visor and sunglasses, and if possible, avoid the sun when exercising. If your sport requires an extended time in the sun, reapply sunscreen after sweating or every two hours, and cover all exposed skin, including ears, backs of the hands, lips (with SPF lip balm) etc.

*Pay attention to your body. Take breaks when necessary, or at the least slow down your activity. Adjust your expectations with the weather; for example, don’t automatically expect the same time or distance when you run, or the same three-set tennis game.

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