The temperatures are rising, which can drive some people to the comfort of an air-conditioned gym. Hesitant to exercise outdoors? Don't sweat it -- there are a number of ways to beat the heat and get a great workout without hiding in the gym (or at home!) all summer long.
It's Getting Hot In Here -- The Need-To-Know
Short of removing all of one's clothing, Nelly might have been on to something. Exercising in high heat and humidity intensifies how hard the body needs to work to maintain normal function. During workouts, core temperature naturally rises, but this can happen far more quickly on a hot day. The body's response is to turn on the sweat glands and circulate more blood to the skin in order to cool it down (clothing optional). As the workout continues, the heart pumps faster to send blood to muscles and to the skin.
Summer means sweat, and all that perspiration means one thing: potential dehydration. The hotter the temperature, the more risk for dehydration, especially during an intense workout. Dehydration can actually affect the brain, impairing short-term memory and the ability to estimate fatigue, meaning the brain can think the body isn't working as hard as it actually is -- a dangerous state to be in when temperatures are high.
High core temperature, increased heart rate and dehydration create a perfect storm that could turn into one of three heat-related illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion or -- the most serious -- heatstroke. Warning signs include muscle cramps, nausea and dizziness, but by taking the proper precautions, a summer workout can be a breeze.
Be Cool -- Your Action Plan
There are plenty of ways to avoid the scary stuff. Here are six things any one can do to (literally) beat the heat:
Follow these tips, and it should be a piece of cake to rock a summertime workout. Need a bigger incentive to step away from the gym? There's a special bonus to successfully training in the heat: things could be easier when temperatures drop. A study showed that the effects of proper heat acclimatization -- improved sweat response, lowered heart rate and lowered body temperature -- stay with an athlete even when training in cooler temperatures. Now those are details worth sweating over!
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