Wow! The summer has arrived in force! All of a sudden the heat is stifling and the sun feels like it’s hovering just above us.
When such a drastic change happens in the weather as quickly as it has this last couple of weeks, it makes working out particularly difficult. What happens in your body when you workout in the heat that makes it feel so much harder than when the weather is cool?
First off, it becomes more difficult for your body to reduce heat through the skin, and you start to sweat more due to an increased core temperature. Blood flow is directed away from your muscles and toward the skin to help with cooling. Also, your nervous system becomes impaired due to excess heat and can’t fire your muscles as efficiently. All of these things combine to make you feel tired a lot faster and not be able to perform your best.
The good news is, your body can adapt to the heat, given time and exposure. Your body will start to produce special proteins that help your muscles recover from the excess heat. Your body will sweat more, but begin to lose less electrolytes through that sweat, and return to pushing blood to the working muscles rather than the skin.
It’s important to give your body time to acclimate itself to the heat (so keep coming to the gym regularly), and practice some mitigating techniques to avoid over-stressing your body as it gets used to the summer temperatures. Make sure you give yourself breaks from direct sunlight if working out outside, and try to increase air flow over as much skin as possible (so expose as much skin as your comfort and good taste allows). Perhaps most importantly, STAY HYDRATED! Which means drinking plenty of water throughout the day, not just during your workout.
So don’t be afraid to get out there and workout! Get your body used to the beautiful summer heat!