Keep Exercising, Even In The Heat
August 16, 2008
Yes, I know it was hot this week.
Yes, the temperature was scorching
and the humidity was up there.
I know the news was filled with stories of people dying in the heat.
What the newspeople, who’d like you to stay seated directly in front of the TV in your living room,
do not tell you is that the majority of people who have heat stroke or heat related illnesses are almost always elderly, infirm or people without access to A/C or an open window.
In my dozen years of exercising in and throughout heat waves,
I have only seen one woman overcome by heat.
She’d been at a wedding in the heat the day before so she started her day dehydrated.
She hadn’t had breakfast, she was hung over, sleep deprived (my kind of girl right there)
and she thought she’d go for a four mile run prior to aerobics class to “clear her head” (read-get rid of her hangover.)
The aerobics room A/C unit had frozen over and the room was warm. She was the gym equivalent of a perfect storm.
And I also remember once in high school
wearing a twenty pound band uniform and standing at attention with my trumpet in 95 degree heat
at a Memorial Day Ceremony,
where I got dizzy and fell over, nearly cracking my fur-covered helmet on a veteran’s grave stone.
These are both exceptions to the rule and both easily avoided by drinking tons of water
and listening to your body, as opposed to your band director.
News reporters make a living keeping us in a state of emergency preparedness;
Over-preparedness, if you ask me. They make it sound like you should stop all activity or else you will be heat-struck.
My theory is that hiding inside with your head in the fridge will only make you less adaptable to our ever-warming planet.
Think about this:
If we sleep at night in a climate-controlled 68 degrees,
then go to work in an equally comfy office or home, then hop in our vacuum-sealed car with the A/C on max,
then we will “devolve” so to speak,
in our ability to handle hot weather.
We will sweat more readily, even when we are not working hard
and who needs pit stains on your cocktail dress?
I know if I ever wore one, I sure wouldn’t.
We will become more dependent on controlling our indoor climate.
This is a scary thought considering the crazy weather trends that we’ve witnessed in the past few years.
Take our canine friends, for example.
Dogs have devolved. When I was a kid, our dog,
Lassie, never came inside the house,
unless it was a wild romp when she got loose on an afternoon when Mom was at the beauty shop
but never, even on the most frigid Ohio blizzard nights,
did Lassie ever leave her dog house to come inside.
(For you young ones,
a dog house was a small building like a house, only dogsized, that had a chain in the dirt outside, where dogs used to live. Comfortably.
Nowadays, dogs could not survive outside in the wintry months.
They have become soft in their domestication. Their ability to tolerate extreme cold has been bred out of them. Ask your vet.
The same deconditioning to the heat will -
or already is- happening to us if we are not exposed to it.
We need to be able to tolerate extreme heat conditions even more as Global Warming continues to worsen.
In my spinning classes,
I can tell exactly who lives in central air conditioning and who relies mostly on open windows and night breezes.
Those people complaining most vociferously about the heat are the ones living in A/C.
Those who do not have it, are not as flushed or overwhelmed. They are not as bothered by fluctuations in temperature one way or the other.
They are survivors; surviving the heat is a head start on not becoming extinct.
What to do? For starters, don’t give up your workout.
(at lower or slower intensities, of course. My news reporter husband insisted that I put include that)
Exercise helps your body become better at cooling itself off so that, even at rest, your body stays at it’s preset 98.6 degrees without as much effort.
This means you don’t pit out your clothes before you’ve finished getting dressed. I hate that.
Another benefit is that you don’t have to work out as hard or as long when it’s hot. As a matter of fact, you probably won’t feel like working at a high intensity. That’s fine.
Also, drink TWICE as much water as usual, especially right before exercise.
If you are hydrated, you should have to pee every hour during the day( and it shouldn’t be dark yellow-I’m sorry to sound so unclassy by mentioning it, but aim for light yellow or clear.)
Three liters a day BEFORE you do any exercise
so six liters would not be ridiculous on a hot day if you are exercising.
So. Bottoms up!
Also, turn your home thermostat up to 75 degrees rather than 68. Roll down your car windows anytime it is bearable
Or whenever your hairdo will allow it.
Both of these adjustments will save fuel and energy as well so it’s a double coupon.
So drink up, work out, and stay cool.
No matter what those news people say.