May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition encourages physical activity combined with healthy eating to get Americans on track with a better quality of life.
For those of us in Ahwatukee, May is also a month of rising temperatures. While we average in the low 90’s for the month, it is not unheard of to hit 100 degrees or higher. That kind of heat can really take a toll on our body, especially when we try to stay active outside. My patients range from professional athletes to avid runners to those just starting to work out. Regardless of where you fall on the physical activity spectrum, the rise in temperature and how it affects your safety during outdoor activity needs to be addressed.
Here are some tips I give my patients on how to defeat the heat while still remaining active:
• If possible, try to time your workouts to occur during the “cooler” times of the day. Wake up earlier and walk the dog, or go for a run before the sun rises. If you’re not a morning person, try waiting for the sun to go down before heading outdoors for your workout. If you are outside while the sun is beating down on you, try to take some breaks in a shaded area. Also, spend time prior to outside activity in an air-conditioned environment. Just a couple hours of cool air can help your body to stay a bit cooler when you have to head out in the heat of the day.
• Make sure to wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe. It should be light-colored, lightweight and not too tight or form fitting. Your body was created with a natural cooling system. Perspiration is a good thing, but the sweat needs the ability to evaporate from your skin to help with the cooling effect.
• Don’t push yourself too hard. Dedication is admirable, but you don’t want to push yourself to the point of heat-related illness such as cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. Pace yourself. If possible, when you workout outside, do it with a partner. It is easier for a friend to see possible overheating symptoms in you and vice versa.
• Keep plenty of water on hand and drink often. You should not wait until you are thirsty to take a drink. You should be drinking a minimum of a half-ounce of water for every pound of body weight.
For example, a 160-pound person should have a minimum of 10 8-ounce glasses every day. That amount should increase with heat and physical activity. A more active 160-pound person may need to drink 13 8-ounce glasses to help replenish those lost fluids. Try weighing yourself before and after a workout. You should replace enough fluids during your workout that your after-workout weight matches your before weight.
Staying physically active is important to overall well-being, but it can get hot out there and really put a damper on our activities.
If you make a few adjustments to your summer routine and make sure you do what you can to prevent dehydration and overheating, you are on the right track.
• Dr. Aaron Kovac is a licensed chiropractor and physiotherapist, and owner of Back in Line Family Chiropractic in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 704-8818 or www.backinlinechiropracticaz.com.