With the summer sun blazing overhead here in Arizona, some of us may feel like slowing down our fitness routine. But remember, summertime is when we most often "show off" our hard-earned physiques. Maintaining our training momentum during these hotter months is vital not just for our physical health, but also for our confidence and self-image.
So, how can we keep our fitness journeys on track despite the triple-digit heat?
Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you optimize your summer workouts:
- Consistent Hydration: While it's indeed possible to over-hydrate, more often than not, we fall short on our water intake. As water constitutes up to 75% of our bodies, it's crucial to drink it continuously to maintain optimal body chemistry. This is even more important during the summer months when we tend to lose more water through sweat (1).
- Replenishing Electrolytes: As you sweat more during the summer, you lose essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These electrolytes facilitate vital cellular communication, and when they're depleted, you can experience brain fog, tiredness, and even illness (2).
- Adapting Training Time: The summer heat will inevitably impact how long you can perform at your peak. Shorter, high-intensity workouts can often be more beneficial than longer, lower-intensity ones (3). Use the summer heat as an opportunity to crank up the intensity while decreasing the duration.
- Choosing Lighter Clothing: As someone who wears all black, I can attest that lighter colors and breathable fabrics can make a significant difference in heat management. Neon colors, such as yellows, greens, and oranges, can help repel sunlight, and moisture-wicking garments can keep you cool and dry (4).
- Planning Wisely: Successful training during the summer—indoors or outdoors—requires careful planning. Aim to train during the cooler hours of the day and account for your sun exposure even when you're not exercising, as it can affect your performance.
So, why train in the heat? Here are a few benefits:
- Efficient Resource Management: Training in the heat can help your body learn to manage its resources more efficiently by eliminating what's unnecessary and conserving what's vital (5).
- Enhanced Endurance: Heat training can boost your ability to release heat, enhancing your endurance for both mental and physical performance (6).
- Boosted Immunity: Exercise in general boosts immunity, but exercising in the heat can further enhance your immune system's ability to stabilize your body under extreme conditions (7).
In summary, while there are benefits to training throughout the summer, these are only possible if we pay special attention to safety, hydration, and nutrition. Always prioritize safety when exercising in the heat. Use these warmer months as an opportunity to hone your self-awareness, recognizing how you feel during your workouts, and adjusting as necessary.
Let's embrace the summer heat as an opportunity to strengthen our bodies, minds, and spirits. Remember to stay hydrated, replenish your electrolytes, and above all, have fun!
Armstrong, L. E., Casa, D. J., Millard-Stafford, M., & Moran, D. S. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exertional heat illness during training and competition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39(3), 556–572.
Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39(2), 377–390.
Casa, D. J., DeMartini, J. K., Bergeron, M. F., Csillan, D., Eichner, E. R., Lopez, R. M., Ferrara, M. S., Miller, K. C., O'Connor, F., Sawka, M. N., & Yeargin, S. W. (2015). National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: exertional heat illnesses. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(9), 986–1000.
Meyer, F., Bar-Or, O., MacDougall, D., & Heigenhauser, G. J. (1992). Sweat electrolyte loss during exercise in the heat: effects of gender and level of maturity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 24(6), 776–781.
Lorenzo, S., Halliwill, J. R., Sawka, M. N., & Minson, C. T. (2010). Heat acclimation improves exercise performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 109(4), 1140–1147.
Garrett, A. T., Creasy, R., Rehrer, N. J., Patterson, M. J., & Cotter, J. D. (2012). Effectiveness of short-term heat acclimation for highly trained athletes. European journal of applied physiology, 112(5), 1827–1837.
Nielsen, B., Hales, J. R., Strange, S., Christensen, N. J., Warberg, J., & Saltin, B. (1993). Human circulatory and thermoregulatory adaptations with heat acclimation and exercise in a hot, dry environment. The Journal of physiology, 460(1), 467–485.