By: Jane Marchant, VozdeGuanacaste – Exercising in hot sunny weather presents a set of challenges one has to take into account. For those coming from cold climates, it takes about two weeks for your body to acclimatize and be able to maintain a lower inner temperature and heart rate, therefore reducing the risk of dehydration. After two weeks, you will start to sweat sooner and your sweat will be more diluted than before, which is a good thing.
Sports involving running present more of a challenge as your blood needs to supply both your working muscles and your skin to cool your body down. With less blood available to the muscles, your heart rate will increase more than in a colder climate.
Here are eight tips to allow you to exercise in this hot environment in a safe way:
1. Always drink plenty of water to prevent cramping, exhaustion or, worse, heat stroke. Avoid sports or sugary drinks, which are usually loaded with calories. Water is enough to replenish your body unless you have sweated profusely. In this case, drink coconut or pipa water or make your own sports drink by mixing water with squeezed lemon and a pinch of salt.
2. Use clothing made with fabric designed to pull moisture away from the body. Avoid fabrics that soak up sweat and do not allow it to evaporate. And protect your skin, preferably by wearing a light long-sleeved shirt and a cap.
3. Try to exercise before 9 a.m. and after 3 p.m. and avoid midday for sure. Seek shade.
4. Increase workout intensity progressively to allow your body to get used to the heat.
5. Water sports such as body boarding, swimming and surfing are ideal since being in the water cools your body. However always use proper sun protection and rash guards when exercising in the water.
6. Walking barefoot in the sand at low tide also provides many health benefits. The contact between your skin and the ground, known as “earthing” or “grounding,” allows your body to receive free electrons, which are potent antioxidants and help fight inflammation in all systems of your body. However, walking barefoot in the sand is not recommended for people suffering from lower leg tendonitis (Achilles tendonitis) or plantar fasciitis, in which case wearing a good sneaker may be better.
7. Beware of heat stroke. Stop your workout immediately if you start feeling dizzy or nauseous and cool yourself off by running cold water over your forearms or using a spray bottle on your skin. You can also use an ice pack on your neck, armpits or groin area. Exercise with a partner for extra safety.