Summer outdoor workouts call for a game plan

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Summer for many people means spending more time outside, even taking workouts out of the gym and into the great outdoors.

As you make this transition you might notice that your 5 mile run on the treadmill feels a whole lot different than 5 miles on the pavement. You might also notice you’re sweating more or fighting fatigue too early in your workout.

Fatigue, overheating and exhaustion are unwelcome workout partners. Here are a few ways to keep them from turning your outdoor workout into a waking nightmare.

Heat stress index

When you head outside, refer to the heat stress index graph accompanying this column and consider the associated risks. Keep in mind that age plays a factor in response to heat. Both young children and older adults have a lower level of tolerance to heat and it is critical to be mindful of heat related exercise risks.

Stay hydrated

Your body loves water. In fact, your body is made up of 70 percent water and craves it every day. If you add exercise to your daily regimen, water needs to become your best friend, especially when exercising outside. Fluid replenishment before, during and after exercise is essential to avoid progressive dehydration.

Strive to drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. If you sweat a lot or are participating in continuous exercise that lasts longer than one or two hours, consider adding a drink that will replenish the lost electrolytes of sodium, potassium and chloride.

Skin care

Sunshine is wonderful and helps boost our moods and allows the body to produce Vitamin D. But it’s also a great way to damage your skin.

So, before you head out for your run, lather on some sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. And, don’t forget those places that are often overlooked, such as the back of the neck, the part of your hair and the tops of the ears.

Clothing

Consider wearing light colored, loose fitting clothing to reflect the sun’s rays and also allow the skin to “breathe.” Of course, less clothing means more skin showing, so go back to the skin care tip and grab the sunscreen.

Buddy up

Workouts with a friend are not only more fun, they provide another level of safety. Keep each other accountable and encourage each other to stay hydrated, to rest when needed and to complete the workout.

Communicate plans

Consider this final tip as a bit of common courtesy to those who love you.

As tempting as it may be to head out the door with only your favorite playlist jamming in your ears to help you “get away from it all,” tell someone where you’re going. Write down your running route, workout location or, at least, the general area you’re headed. Add to that information the approximate time you’ll return. That way, in case of an emergency those attempting to locate you will know which direction to head.

Leslie Snyder is senior program director of Healthy Living at the Walla Walla YMCA. She holds certifications with the American Council on Exercise in group fitness, personal training and as a health coach. She can be reached at lsnyder@wwymca.org.

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