The sun is shining and the heat is on! While the summer brings beautiful days and the thirst for a tan, intense heat can be equally punishing on anyone’s motivation to stay fit. But we all know you just spent spring getting rid of any winter blues, so don’t stop now! Here’s why you should keep working hard during the summer and we also have some workouts to help along the way.
For many, once the temperatures reach a certain threshold we find ourselves getting tired much easier. And there’s a reason for that. Higher temperatures outside means an increased need to regulate core temperature. The natural response is for the body to perspire, which means a loss of fluids. Eventually the body begins to become dehydrated and unable to regulate its temperature, leading to potential heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
But research indicates that safely pushing your limits in hot temperatures has greater benefits to overall fitness levels. One study compared cycling in 100-degree temperatures, followed by exercising in cooler temps. After the sustained exercise in heat, future performance was noticeably improved across the board, including increased speed, aerobic power, and cardiac output.
The reason? More plasma within the blood. During hot workouts, blood is being sent to muscles and your skin at an increased rate to simultaneously stay cool and maintain performance. Top it off with the fact that hot workouts leave you less hungry, and the results are a slimmer, faster, stronger you.
So how do we keep ourselves at high performance while staying safe in the heat?
Whether it’s walking, volleyball, soccer, Frisbee, jogging, or paddleball, there are countless options for beach activities. Heck, even digging a hole on the beach or building a sandcastle can be transformed into a great oblique workout. The key to making beach activities a workout is maintaining a high intensity level. If you’re looking for a serious burn – the fitness kind, not the solar sort – try varying your workout intensity with alternating sprints, walking, and jogging. The added challenge of the sand will push you to your limits.
The added benefit of exercise on the beach is a unique focus on the lower legs. Due to the less stable footing, more effort is required to maintain balance and stability. Consequently, you’ll end up with stronger ankles, feet, shins, and calves.
But the best part of working out on the beach? If you start to feel too hot, jump in the water, cool off, and then work on that swimming form!
If you’re looking to get some of the long-term benefits hot temperature workouts may yield, mixed interval workouts are perfect for runners. During the summer, try incorporating these runs 2 to 3 times per week into your workout. Push your pace for two to three minutes, to the point where speaking becomes more difficult. Then jog or fast-walk for two minutes to recover. Repeat three to six times.
The mix of intensity will be both aerobic and anaerobic, increasing fast-twitch muscle response and promote fat burning. Your body will be forced to increase its oxygen dispersion to your muscles, leading to higher vO2 max levels.
If you’re looking for a longer and more low-impact workout in the summer, few options are better than replacing that jog with a bike ride. See some great scenery and relieve impact-related stress to your legs and lower back, all while burning calories and getting some great cardio.
The big benefit of choosing cycling over running is the increased heat regulation available on a ride due to the flowing air. But here are a few things to keep in mind before a long summer ride. The heat is still going to be a factor while on a ride, so expect higher effort being required for the same ride you’d do in the fall. Make sure to break out the lightweight, moisture wicking clothing, and a good water bottle or hydration pack Also, don’t forget that sunblock! Summer brings the highest levels of UV exposure, so protect yourself with sunblock to lower risks of sunburn.
IMPACT Physical Therapy is always looking to take our clients’ fitness levels to new heights, and we want to do the same for you! Contact IMPACT today to for a runner’s analysis, strength and conditioning tips, or some top of the line athletic training.