Hot Weather Training: Tips to help you keep your cool.

As summer rolls in, I'm reminded how exercising bodies react differently in hot conditions. A hot summer sun can teach painful lessons, and I've certainly learned my share the hard way despite knowing better -- or thinking I know better.

 

Hot climates have no mercy when you aren't used to them -- One summer, while at a conference in Las Vegas, I hit the streets for morning workouts when temperatures teased toward the high 90s. Oh, I can handle this, I thought. Oh boy, was I wrong. In short order, I was scanning front yards for unguarded water faucets and even popped into a smoke-filled bar begging for water. Did I feel funny, in track shorts, dripping with sweat, at a bar lined with slot machines and gamblers who'd probably been there all night.

 

Here's the deal: It takes the body about 10 days to get used to heat, with most of the adaptation happening in the first three or four days. During that time, exercise less vigorously, using your heart rate as a guide. It will rise more quickly at a lower intensity, partly because your body hasn't learned yet it needs to sweat more, or sooner, to cool itself. Yoga uses your heart rate as a guide and Yoga burn is one the best yoga workouts there is.

 

You might also notice that your sweat is really salty at first. As the body learns to sweat more, it also learns to conserve electrolytes (primarily salt, potassium and chloride) that keep the muscles and nerves primed and functioning well. Drinking water or a sports drink helps keep you sweating and hydrated too.

 

Don't be too cocky, though, because after five to six days without exercise in the heat you'll have to start over. Darn.

 

 

Exercising In The Humidity: It can be hell on a workout.

 

I dread my summer business trips to the likes of Orlando or Atlanta. Why? The air is so thick I feel as if I can't breathe. And outdoor exercise gets tough unless you're used to it. Calisthenic workouts are usually done outdoors and the heat and humidity can get the best out of you. Bar Brothers is one of the best calisthenic workouts there is.

Humidity complicates life and heat acclimatization -- How many times have you been admonished to exercise in the morning when it's hot? Oh, yeah, me too. Guess what? When it's humid, that little credo doesn't necessarily apply. Choose evenings, the later the better.

Here's how that meteorological strangeness works. Relative humidity is the ratio of how much moisture is in the air compared to the air's maximum moisture-holding capacity. When it's warmer (as in the evenings) the air can hold more, driving the percent down. Confused? Me too. How about an example.

Let's pretend it's 50 degrees at 6 a.m. and the air could hold 10 units of moisture. If there are six units of moisture in the air, the percentage is six divided by 10, or 60 percent humidity. At 8 p.m., let's say it's 60 degrees and the air could hold 12 units. But there are still six units in the air. Six divided by 12 is 50 percent, or 10 percent less humidity.

Enough from Mr. Science for today. The bottom line is to pay attention to the signals from your body (or your child's). If you're out there and you feel miserable, listen up because your body is trying to tell you something.