The Hot and Cold of Working Out
The Hot and Cold of Working Out
Some like it hot and some like it cold but both need to take special precautions to be healthy by choice and not by chance.
The United States and many other countries are dealing with an increase, or even a prevalence of, obesity. Exercise and diet are the two basic ways to prevent or overcome this epidemic. In the United States, physicians refer to “Physical Activity” (PA) goals as the easy and affordable prescription for maintaining a healthy weight and more often than not, recommend outdoor exercise, which combines fresh air with mobility.
Weather conditions have an effect on whether an individual stays motivated to exercise outdoors. For example, not everyone will want to exercise outdoors during rain, snow or extremely hot or cold conditions. Working out under hot weather conditions can lead to a number of illnesses, including heat cramps, exhaustion and heatstroke. These occur when the body’s cooling system fails to function due to extreme heat and humidity, sweating profusely or not drinking enough fluids. The rule of thumb for outdoor activities during extremely hot weather is to avoid the hours immediately before and after the noon hour, and to stay hydrated throughout your exercise routine.
Exercising in cold weather not only helps keep extra pounds at bay but also can help combat the winter blues. As explained by Dr. Keven Plancher, head of Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in New York City to Women’s Health magazine, “All exercise can increase your levels of those feel-good hormones, endorphins. But because your body has to work harder in the cold, your endorphin production is boosted even more, leading to a happier state of mind.”1 Women’s Health also points out that a workout outside—even when the air is cold—can give you some much-needed sun exposure in the dark winter months, which will boost your mood as well.2
Cooler weather actually helps motivate people to do cardio workouts, because running, biking, hiking and so forth are all activities that produce heat. Even walking is suited for cooler temperatures. Low temperatures tend to make the heart work harder to keep the body at a stable temperature, so people with heart disease are advised to take caution when participating in strenuous activities during extremely cold conditions.3 Again, always stay hydrated.
To help stay motivated and consistent on an Active Wellness lifestyle, here are some tips:
1. Eat healthy carbs a couple of hours before strenuous activities to keep your body warm and energetic. This also helps prevent fatigue.
2. Do not drink caffeinated beverages before working out, because they can cause dehydration.
3. Keep an energy bar on hand, especially when you know you will be exercising intensely or for a long period of time.
4. Drink water or beverages with electrolytes before, during and after your workout to avoid cramping and dizziness. The PiMag® Sport Bottle is ideal with its built-in water filter.
5. Set exercise/weight goals and write them down.
6. Reward yourself periodically as you achieve your goals, but not with food, so you don’t associate pleasure only with edible treats.