Although I'm away from home, in the mountains, and not as affected by this huge triple digit heat wave, I did get a wake-up call of my own that I thought would be important to share. I was shooting an exercise video this week in 90-degree heat. It was hot, but I got on a roll and forgot about the time. Less than an hour in, I started to swoon. Not a good shot on an exercise video. I realized immediately what had happened; I'd gotten so involved, I forgot to drink water between takes. I can say from experience that it creeps up on you. So you need to take steps to keep yourself cool and well-hydrated.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine losing more than 2 percent of your body weight through dehydration puts your body at risk for heat illness. This is serious business. We've all read the stories of team athletes who have actually died.
When you exercise in the heat you can lose up to five cups of water per hour. So it's important to drink water before, during, and after vigorous exercise. The rule of thumb is to drink 2 cups of water a couple of hours before you start exercising so you are fully hydrated. Remember to bring that water bottle with you and drink a cup of water every 15 minutes or so while you are exercising. Don't wait till you're thirsty. If you're thirsty, you're already getting dehydrated.
But you're not done yet. You need to drink another 2 cups over a two-hour period after exercise.
Sounds like a lot of water. It's not. It's just making up for the water you lose when you exercise in the heat.
Pouring water over your head during exercise won't help you rehydrate, but it does make you feel better. A study at Cal State Fullerton with trained athletes showed that athletes exercising in 92-degree heat in a controlled setting felt cooler and that the workout was easier to perform.
But you know what Noel Coward said about "mad dogs and Englishmen." Give yourself a break. If you can, exercise when it's cooler, early mornings or late afternoons when the sun is less direct. Try finding shady areas.
Instead of keeping up your brisk pace for the whole workout, break it up. Go at normal pace for a bit, do a short light interval and then pick up your speed again.
Another idea is to cross train. Add intervals of strength training between shorter bouts of cardio. You'll get a chance to drink and pour some water over your head too! Stop at a wall, a tree or a fence, and do these five exercises: two for your upper body and three for your lower.
Here is a video with some easy exercises to tone you up, no equipment necessary. (Explanations written below.)
With all these exercises, remember to exhale on the exertion.
Standing Push Ups:
Stand facing a surface with legs hip width apart and place hands shoulder width apart. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself down to the surface and then push back upright again.
Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, and Shoulders
Face surface and hold on for balance. With feet together pointing straight ahead, slowly lift your body up on to your toes, while tightening calf, abs and buttocks muscles. Then slowly lower yourself back down again.
Muscles worked: calves, abs, and buttocks.
Face surface, legs hip with apart. Hold on for balance. Shift weight back into heels. Keeping back straight, abs pulled in, gently bend at the knees and squat to about a 90-degree angle. Hold for a moment, then, using just your leg muscles, return to an upright position.
Muscles worked: Front of thigh (Quads), Back of thigh, (Hamstrings) Buttocks, Abs
Stand against surface for back support. Holding on as needed for balance, slide down to a sitting position against wall, knees at about a 90-degree angle. Pull your abs in and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Muscles worked: Thighs and Abs
Upper Back Squeeze:
Stand with your back to the surface, feet shoulder width apart. Place hands behind you on surface. Straighten your arms behind you and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Muscles worked: Back, Shoulders, Back of arms (Triceps)
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