Opinion Column

Fit for LIfe: Be prepared for high temps when planning your workout this summer

By Donna Cotnam, Daily Observer

Viktor Cap / Getty Images
When doing activites and working out during the summer months, it is important to stay hydrated, says columnist Donna Cotnam.

Viktor Cap / Getty Images When doing activites and working out during the summer months, it is important to stay hydrated, says columnist Donna Cotnam.

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The Heat Is On. . . It's not just a song - it is what we are dealing with weather wise too. Before you head out for your favourite activity you need to be prepared for the temperatures that you are up against. Heat exhaustion is one of the most common occurrences we face in the summer. Drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated is very important. We have a tendency to only drink when we are thirsty - that really means you are already dehydrated.

Here are some tips for being physically active in the heat. Try to drink often throughout the day. Stay away from too much caffeine - it alone dehydrates you more. You should drink about 15-20 minutes before you start your activity and then about every 15 minutes during your activity. Think what you will about sport drinks - water is still the best fluid you can drink. Sports and protein drinks have their place too, but be sure to ask a nutritional consultant before you start with too many of them.

Nutrition is always very important, but even more so in the heat. It's common not to feel hungry in hot weather, but not eating also leads to dehydration, makes you weak and will impair your performance level. Try to eat lesser amounts more often. Fruits and vegetables also help to keep your fluid levels up. Dieting by sweating is not a great solution - you just lose water, not fat. It all comes back after a few glasses of water and a solid meal. Also if you are not eating properly and embark on physical activity, you will be weak and may end up injuring yourself.

The clothing you choose for your outdoor activity is important as well. Lightweight cotton is always good. If your activity involves the water - there are many quick dry products on the market that you may want to look into. Just make sure that your clothing is loose fitting and comfortable.

Another thing you want to take into consideration when it comes to outdoor fitness is the time of day that you engage in your activity. The hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are the hottest. I know that various tournaments last all day, so be prepared for all weather situations (after all this is the Ottawa Valley). Dress in layers; slap on your sunscreen; hats help to prevent sunstroke; find shade as often as you can; wear sunglasses - squinting because of the sun will lead to headaches, dizziness and may even cause you to pass out. Be sure to have lots of fluids with you.

The last piece of advice I can offer is to slow down your activity in the heat. If you are a jogger - either slow your pace or shorten your route. Often we don't realize the effect the sun and heat have is having on us until it's too late. So get out there and enjoy the summer safely!

If there is any specific fitness related questions you would like addressed please email them to fitmom@hotmail.com.