I know, we are getting this out a little late considering our weather lately. Never fear however, you can still enjoy your favorite outdoor activities and stay cool with a basic understanding of how your body controls its inner temperature or what is known as thermoregulation.
Your body’s inner temperature runs about 97 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s at rest. When you are exercising or in motion this this temperature will rise, requiring the need for thermoregulation. Sweating, releasing excess water, is one of the ways our body regulates itself.
“Muscles store carbohydrates as glycogen. One molecule of glycogen can hold three to four molecules of water. As glycogen is converted to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to fuel exercise, water is released. As the water moves to the surface of the skin it takes heat with it; as we sweat we are releasing excess heat from our bodies. This is why it’s necessary to stay properly hydrated during exercise in normal temperatures and critical to stay hydrated during hot weather—water is an important component of thermoregulatory processes.
It’s important to monitor your body weight during the warmer months of summer. When it’s hot outside losing weight as a result of sweating is not necessarily a good thing and could be an indicator of heat illness. Remember that up to 70 percent of your muscle tissue and blood are water. Excessive sweating that results in a loss of three to five percent of body weight could put you at risk for dehydration, which can impact normal thermoregulation. A loss of five percent or more of body weight due to sweating is an indicator of severe heat stress, which could be fatal.”
Following are some strategies for staying cool during your summer workouts:
- The most important method is to stay properly hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your workouts. A good rule of thumb – weight yourself before exercise. For every pound of weight loss drink approximately one quart of water.
- Exercise in the morning before it gets hot. In the early morning when the sun is not directly overhead, is often the coolest time of day. Exercising in the evening is better than working out during the day but the asphalt and concrete retain and give off heat and therefore can still be quite hot.
- If possible exercise in an air-conditioned environment or one with proper air circulation. A cooler environment can help your body maintain optimal thermoregulation.
- Wear moisture wicking tops. Wearing a shirt helps your body to efficiently remove water from the surface of your skin, helping you to stay cooler during your workout.
- Limit heat exposure and save the hot yoga for the winter months. Exercising in studios where the temperature is elevated can damage your body and cause long-term stress.
- Take an ice bath. Ice baths are a good way to bring down your core temperature and an effective means of promoting muscle recovery, which can be important if you are participating in a multi-day events.
- Use cold towels – a cold towel placed on your neck or wrists can help reduce core temperature, provide a cooling sensation and help you cool down quickly. Sports drinks w/electrolytes can help you re-hydrate more quickly, but are often high in calories.
Implementing these strategies can help you stay cool so you can keep moving all summer long but on day when it’s really hot, adjust your workout accordingly.
ACE Fitness News, 2016