It’s no secret that summers around Charleston and Mount Pleasant can be brutal. High heat, beating sun, ridiculous humidity—three things that are notorious for sapping energy and killing motivation. So why does this hot and humid weather business make us feel so drained? And what can we do to beat the heat and keep up our active lifestyles while enduring the heat of the Lowcountry?
THE HEAT IS ON
According to More Magazine, the humidity levels in the air have a huge impact on how we feel outdoors. “When the air’s more moisture-rich than usual, it feels even hotter than it really is, making us that much more tired. High temperatures outside get our bodies working overtime to maintain a stable, comfortable temperature on the inside. That’s why we release sweat in the first place: to remove excess heat internally and cool off as the sweat evaporates from our skin. But in humid situations, the air’s so waterlogged that it can’t absorb moisture as quickly, if at all, depending on humidity levels. The sweat has nowhere to go, so it overheats the body even more in the process. Blood vessels dilate to release heat, sending more blood to the skin surface and less to our brain and internal organs. All of this is why we feel so weak and out of it during humid times.”
So what happens when you start exercising in this environment? Outside Magazine puts it perfectly: “‘When you’re exercising in the heat, your core temperature goes up and it’s more difficult for your body to cool itself down,’ says Dr. Laura Goldberg, medical director of the Cleveland Marathon. As a result, your sweat level increases—which, unless you’re replenishing regularly, can lead to salt loss and dehydration. It depletes the fluid and electrolytes in your body, which makes it more difficult for blood to flow to your muscles,” Goldberg says. “That’s why your legs feel so heavy—they literally aren’t getting enough blood to keep them working optimally, so they start to shut down.’ Your brain also needs steady blood flow to keep you alert and awake. Without it, it’s normal for you to feel tired and crave a snooze.”
Now we know that we Duffnatics are NOT going to skip out on our fitness just because the weather is warm and muggy. So how do we maintain our fitness without running ourselves ragged during Charleston’s hottest months?
MIND YOUR PRECAUTIONS
Men’s Fitness suggests that working out in the heat may actually HELP with your fitness. “[P]ushing yourself in the summer heat could help improve your performance in running, cycling, or other cardio activities. As long as you take the right precautions, workouts in hot weather may give you a boost if you’re training for an endurance event, such as a marathon, Tough Mudder or some other sort of weekend warrior-style event. Hot-weather training may even eclipse high-altitude training when it comes to improving your performance.”
What we at DUFF want to emphasize however is the part where they say “As long as you take the right precautions”…
TIPS ON BEATING THE HEAT
What are the right precautions? Check out these tips for beating the heat during your workouts this summer (these come from WebMD):
- Drink before, during and after exercise. Don’t rely on your thirst to tell you how much fluid you need.
- Avoid items that contain caffeine (e.g., coffee, soft drinks and tea) or alcohol because these can increase fluid loss.
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothing that allows evaporation.
- If you become overheated, moisten your skin by sponging or spraying it with water to assist in cooling down.
- Avoid the use of saunas, steam rooms and hot tubs immediately following exercise.
- On very hot days, stay indoors or in the shade.