Hot?! Wonderful Water Will Keep You Cool

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 29th June 2012

Last week’s blog included general hints for surviving the temperature extremes of summer—and water was mentioned as a surefire way to beat the heat.  Since water is so important for safety and comfort, I wanted to expand on its virtues and offer a few examples of water’s helpful effects when used internally and externally.

Most know that staying hydrated requires drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workout.  And if you’re out in the elements for less than an hour, water will most likely be sufficient.  However, for those sweating profusely and/or exercising for more than an hour, water alone will not be enough.  Instead, drinking a beverage with electrolytes is necessary to minimize the risk of hyponatremia.  Hyponatremia is an imbalance that occurs when your body does not have enough salt for the amount of water in your bloodstream.  Symptoms can include confusion, fatigue, muscle weakness, headache, and nausea.  Severe conditions can cause a life threatening emergency leading to seizures, coma or death.  So remember when you are working up a good sweat that to maintain a safe balance within, you need to drink water and fluids with electrolytes.
I also mentioned last week that one of my favorite “keep cool” hints was to submerge myself in water for a bit prior to an outdoor workout as a way to lower the body’s core temperature.  I recently put that hint into action.  Immediately after teaching a deep-water class, I went for a five-mile tempo run.  Although the air temperature was in the low nineties, it felt much cooler and I ran with energy.

On another day I planned to run nine-miles at a slow and easy pace.  The air temperature was 94 degrees and the humidity level was about 80% so even with a light breeze and knowing that much of my route would be shaded, I was feeling a bit apprehensive about the conditions.  Somewhere between mile four and five, I was definitely questioning my decision to run so far in the heat.  However, I was on the way home so I slowed my pace even more and gave myself permission to take walking breaks.  About that time I noticed the sky was darkening and clouds were forming.  A few minutes later I was caught in a wonderful rain shower with about a mile and a half to go—and the feeling of refreshment was PRICELESS!

Unfortunately, pools are not always available and well-timed rain showers are not guaranteed.  However, you can create your own relief by running through sprinklers, dousing yourself with water from a hose, putting ice cubes under your hat, or pouring water on the back of your neck.  Hopefully, you won’t feel the need to abandon your outdoor activity this summer.  With a little bit of common sense, proper hydration, and by keeping some safety hints in mind, you can safely continue working out through the heat.