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Too Hot to Handle

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Training outdoors and getting some fresh air can benefit your mind and body. However, during the summer months it can be difficult and even dangerous for your body to train outside in high temperatures. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainers Tonya Gutch, MS, and Sam Laceky share their insights on the benefit to taking your workouts indoors this summer.

The dangers of outside summertime workouts
Many prefer exercising outdoors soaking in the sunshine and nature, but it may not be the healthiest choice during the summer months. Exercising outdoors in the heat and sun puts you at higher risk for sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke. “As it starts to warm up, you need to give yourself time to acclimate to rising temperatures,” says Gutch. “While it takes a good 14 days for your body to adjust to the heat, hydration becomes the biggest concern.” Heat exhaustion cramps are a common side effect from dehydration when your body is unable to handle the heat and intense loss of fluids.

How hot is too hot to work out outside? While there is no simple formula to answer this, it is typically wise to shorten the duration of your workout if it is hot outside. “If you are unsure about your body’s tolerance to exercising in the heat, cut the workout earlier than you think you need to,” suggests Laceky. “It is also important to remember to drink more water than you normally would before you start to feel dehydrated.”

The benefits of indoor workouts
One of the main factors that make working out indoors during the summer months safer is it allows you to be completely in control of your environment and are not as likely to become dehydrated. Indoor workouts also reduce the risk of sunburn or skin damage and over-stressing your internal organs in extreme temperatures.

“Training indoors can also be very beneficial for those who battle allergies or have sensitivities to the sun, allowing them to stay healthy and active without these factors hindering them,” says Laceky.

Hydration still remains of upmost importance regardless of the type of environment you are exercising in. Your body loses water much more quickly in hotter temperatures so remember to refuel and replenish frequently!

Get indoors and get moving
When the summer sun gets too hot to handle, have no fear! There are plenty of ways to stay active while keeping your cool.

  • Classes: Whether you register for a group exercise class at the gym or prefer the comfort of your own home, there is a plethora of indoor workout routines available on social media, YouTube or exercise apps on your smartphone.
  • Minimal equipment workouts: Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of body weight workouts! Feel like you’re up to a challenge? Incorporate bands, sliders or dumbbells to take your workout to the next level. Even laundry detergent bottles, paint cans or a backpack filled with canned food can serve as weight alternatives for at-home workouts.
  • Weight training: Whether you use dumbbells, weight machines or venture out and try functional fitness equipment such as Precor Queenax or TRX, balancing strength training with aerobic exercise is vital. Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s recommends 150 minutes of aerobic training per week and spreading it out over three to five days. This should also be paired with at least two to three days of strength or resistance training. 
  • Indoor running/cycling: Utilize your gym’s treadmill or stationary bikes if it’s too hot to hit the trails.

“Focusing on workouts that are metabolically demanding, while training the entire body in all planes of motion, are going to be the most effective type of workout to perform,” explains Laceky. He shares that he enjoys weight training, calisthenics and aerobic training to stay fit during the summer months. His favorite activities, however, are those he can do with his family such as swimming, going on walks or riding bikes with his kids.

Gutch says when she chooses to exercise outside in the hotter months, she makes sure to wear sunscreen and breathable, light-colored clothing made of fabrics designed to wick away sweat. “I also schedule my exercise in the coolest parts of the summer days, either before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m.”

As temperatures rise, so do the risks that accompany exercising outdoors. This summer, as you lay out your workout program, remember it might be safer to skip out on the sunshine and keep your workout indoors.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.