By Anna Roy
Summer is here and along with that comes a little freedom, the addition of swimsuits in your wardrobe, and rising temperatures. If you live anywhere in the south, those last two items may result in your desire to work out but your lack of desire to experience a heat stroke in the ever-present sun.
Summer is still one of the most popular times to get out and play sports. For example, basketball courts can be used for games such as Horse or 1 v. 1. Local parks, like Acadiana Park offer Frisbee golf courses, soccer goals, hiking trails, and fields for flag football. Tennis is another fun sport that can be played often at one of the many courts Lafayette has to offer. My personal favorite? Walking or bike riding through neighborhoods and looking at all the beautiful homes.
Spending more time outdoors, especially when trying to get in a good workout, is not necessarily a bad idea. Being in the sun decreases tension, anxiety, and stress, just like exercise does. Plus as an added bonus you can get quality time in with your kids while encouraging fitness and an active life for them too.
First, try not to do activities during the peak of the heat. Working out or playing outside during the morning or around sunset helps you avoid the hottest parts of the day. Training in extreme southern heat and this lovely Louisiana humidity takes a lot more out of you than you are used to in a gym or cooler weather. Know that your body probably needs to move at a slower pace and will need time to acclimate to the warmer temperature. Also, wear clothes that are lightweight, light colored, and that have moisture-wicking capabilities. Stay away from tight, dark colored clothes (especially cotton) that will only make you hotter. You should keep your skin protected from the harsh sun and prevent painful sunburns by applying a coat of sunscreen before heading outdoors! Most importantly, listen to your body. Know when you need to stop or move back inside to ensure safety. Definitely take a break if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, weak, experience muscle cramps, or if your skin becomes cool and clammy.
But hydration is the absolute key to staying safe in the summer heat. Excess heat leads to excess sweat, which leads to dehydration very fast. When your body loses water through sweat, your heart has to work harder to pump oxygen to your muscles. If you exercise in the afternoon or evening, make sure to drink lots of water in the hours leading up to it; if you are a morning exerciser, drink lots of water the day before as well as right when you wake up! In addition, it is very important to sip on water during your outdoor activities to feel and perform your best. And of course, drink plenty of H20 following your workout, no matter what time of the day it takes place! To replenish your body even more and help prevent muscle cramps, you can add items rich in electrolytes, such as low-sugar sports drinks or gels.