Healthy Husky: Keepin' it cool in Storrs
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 23:08
While the weather may soon turn in Storrs and the blistering summer heat will be replaced with the blustery winter, those of you trying to exercise cannot underestimate the toll warm weather can take on your body. Here are some quick tips to help maximize your workouts in the heat.
One of the key ways to not only increase performance in the heat but also prevent heat illnesses is by changing the times you exercise. While no college student likes to hear it, exercising early in the morning (or late at night) may prove to be the best option to avoid the summer heat. Exercising between 10 am and 4 pm, the hottest part of the day, puts the greatest strain on your body. Your risk is even further increased when high temperatures are combined with high humidity. It is in these conditions that your body loses nearly its entire ability to dissipate heat. When you begin to feel lightheaded, dizzy or nauseated during exercise in the heat, your body is telling you to stop as your body temperature may be approaching dangerous levels.
In determining whether or not your body temperature will reach dangerous levels, intensity can be a great mitigating factor. During particularly hot days, it is best to decrease the intensity to about 75 percent of what you would do on a normal day. Not only does this protect your body in the short term; if you gradually phase in intense exercise over 10-14 days your body can become acclimated to the heat. The physiological changes that occur can help you push a bit harder further down the road.
When you have no choice but to exercise in the hottest part of the day, keeping yourself cool and feeling cool should be your number one priority. While proper hydration is a great way to begin this process, and will be discussed in a later article, other steps can be taken to ensure you do not end up on the sideline at the wrong time. Elite level athletes may have access to fancy cooling vests and hand cooling devices, but you can apply the same principles to keep yourself cool without them. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is through ice baths and cold showers. While it may not sound like the most comfortable experience, a 10-15 minute ice bath or shower before exercise can drop your core body temperature and allow you to push yourself that little bit more.
Exercising in the heat can seem like a complicated issue, but it really boils down to a simple concept: keep yourself cool. Whenever a heat wave strikes should not be your excuse to not exercise but rather a chance to exercise smarter. By taking some of the steps of above you can not only decrease your risk of heat illnesses, but also ensure that you are always ready to perform at your best.