The temps are rising as summer settles across America. I am stoked. I love the heat. I love sunshine. I love everything about summer. I am one of those crazy people that will get in my car, turn OFF the air conditioning and just let the heat soak into my bones. It feels so good. I am sure this is related to underlying arthritis and joint issues, but I also know that heat just feels good to me. You will rarely hear me complain about being hot.
There is one exception: I feel the heat when I run. Running in the heat will suck the life out of me. I have found that I need to be prepared to adjust my schedule for the heat and summer vacation in general in order to get in my daily “Christ Walk.” As summer approaches, you will also need to practice a little “Semper Gumby” (always flexible) in order to meet your summer fitness goals.
First off, I have had to move my exercise time from my lunch break to before work starts. This way, I am avoiding the peak in temperatures outside and my husband can stay at home with the kids now that school is out. It’s nice that I get my exercise out of the way first thing, but it’s also taken an adjustment in my sleep schedule to wake up an hour earlier. On the days I cannot get outside the door, I will incorporate an indoor workout, bike with the kids, or hit the treadmill as alternatives to the norm. I have joined several summer fitness challenges that hold me accountable to being physically active on a daily basis. Where possible, I try and do those activities with my kids so that we are all being active throughout the summer and spending active time together. The pool, the waterpark, parks, and scooters all provide opportunities for us to get in more steps to our day that count as physical activity. Am I training for a big race around this heat or with my kids at home? No. I’ve had to alter my expectations with this seasonal change, but I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to do something different. When we challenge our bodies to do something different with exercise, we often excel in our traditional chosen sport because we have utilized new muscles in new ways.
With all this activity and sunshine comes the potential for dehydration and sun exposure. The nurse (and mom) in me feels the need to remind you to slather up or cover up when you are out during peak sunlight hours. Nothing is worse than starting your summer off with a burn. I can attest you should also NOT trust your children to cover your back adequately with sunscreen. I had a nice strip of red down my back thanks to my daughters “efforts” after a day at the pool with the kids. We had a great time, but the burn was a bummer.
The final key to success with your exercise during the summer is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Your body needs that water and fluid when you are sweating more. If you’ve gone out for an intense run, walk, sport, or other endurance event, you are going to need to replenish your body of its fluids. Feel a headache coming on? You might need more fluid than you expect. A headache is a sure sign that you should look at your fluid balance. You may also need to replace the electrolytes you lost through sweat. Sometimes, even if we are drinking a lot of water after activity, but not replacing the electrolytes, we may be making the headache worse. Drinking too much water without replacing the salts in your bodies just dilutes those existing electrolytes further and this can make a bad headache worse.
Since I like to avoid high fructose corn syrup and I try to use as many natural products as I can, I like to use Nuun tablets as an alternative to Gatorade or Powerade. The Nuun tables replenish me on a run without tearing up my tummy. Eating bananas and applesauce and and 100% fruit juices will work as well. You don’t have to dump a bunch of chemicals into your body this summer—God gave us plenty of alternatives from natural sources to replace what we have lost.
So enjoy the sun God gave us. Get out there and exercise and be active. Join a summer fitness challenge and don’t let the heat keep you inside. Soak the sun up (and the Vitamin D) so that you are filled with summer goodness through the upcoming fall and winter. Life is a cycle. We can adjust our schedules to make sure we take care of those things that are important to us no matter the season.