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How to stay fit during summer

Mainting your fitness during the hot months doesn't just mean training hard. It also means avoiding exhaustion and excercising smartly

exercise smartly during summer.
exercise smartly during summer. (Istockphoto)

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As the summer progresses and temperatures rise, many people are likely to second guess their training routine, especially if it involves outdoor workouts. The intense heat makes maintaining performance and intensity levels difficult.

Outdoor exercise is an enjoyable way for individuals to improve fitness, but it is dependent on weather conditions, notes Dr. Ajay Aggarwal, director and head of internal medicine at Fortis Hospital, Noida. 

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“When we exercise, we generate internal heat, which our bodies shed by sweating and shunting the warm blood away from our cores and toward the skin. When the ambient temperatures rise, though, this process falters. Body heat builds up. Our hearts labour to send additional blood toward the skin. We glisten with sweat, and the same run, stroll, or ride that felt tolerable during cooler weather now drains us,” he explains.

Some planning and minor tweaks in your training plan and routine can help you navigate the summer months without compromising your fitness, say health and fitness experts. One way to side-step heat is to simply move the workouts indoors. In case you can’t change your workout times, you could adjust the intensity of your training. 

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Logically, it’s a good thing to reduce the intensity of your training during the summer months, says coach Gagan Arora, founder of Kosmic Fitness health studio in Delhi. “One can opt for shorter cardiovascular training sessions with interval training. Also, if you want to continue training outdoors, consider scheduling them for the early morning. Turn to swimming or exercise in an air-conditioned environment if you are free only during day-time for training,” he says.  

Chances are you might be training for an event like a sports competition or a marathon, and you cannot miss outdoor training despite the higher temperatures. In that case, Arora suggests you take very good care with food, hydration, recovery and the time of the day and place of training. “On top of all that one should monitor their resting heart rate and listen to their body before pushing for the next training session.” 

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Training in hot weather can actually be of advantage, but for that, you will need to acclimatize to the heat. And that takes time, so don’t rush it. “Acclimatisation  involves working out sometimes, by choice, when the day is at its warmest. This approach helps to condition our bodies to better cope with heat. Once acclimatised, we will sweat earlier and more abundantly than before, dissipating internal heat better and leaving us feeling bouncier and less fatigued,” says Aggarwal. 

After each acclimatisation training session, you must have a warm shower, which prompts the body to continue acclimatising and that extends the stimuli for heat adaptation. The warm shower is, therefore, welcome and beneficial, Aggarwal explains. 

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Of course, you need to be vigilant about how your body reacts to training in the increased heat. If you feel nausea, headache, dizziness or cramping during a hot workout, slow down or stop and look for shade since these could be signs of incipient heat illness. “Before the body is acclimatised, we need to be cautious in doing intensive workouts during the summer months,” warns Aggarwal. Also, avoid training outdoors on days with high wet bulb temperatures, i.e. high heat combined with extreme humidity.

“You must rehydrate before, during and after workouts with an isotonic electrolyte solution or drink. You should also avoid caffeinated drinks at all times and carry lemon water with you if you are stepping out. Also, avoid alcohol consumption if you are training hard during the summer months as that tends to dehydrate you further,” advises Arora. 

You also need to avoid excessive exercise as that could lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. “Work out mostly during morning hours, do indoor exercises during daytime when the heat is at its peak, have a high fluid intake at timely intervals and rehydrate with ORS and coconut water. Acclimatising the body to the heat gradually can help people to continue exercising even in the warm summers,” Aggarwal sums up.

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Arora suggests the following five exercises/workouts for the summer months. They are fairly simple, and not strenuous.

-30 minutes Brisk Walk or easy jog either early morning or after sunset, when its cooler. 

-30 minutes Easy swim. Can be done any time of the day if pool is covered. 

-Dynamic stretches followed by Tabata intervals: 20 seconds work, 10 seconds recovery for 8 sets. Do any one simple exercise like squats, jumping jacks, push-ups, pull downs, step-ups, burpees, etc. It’s a short but intense workout for 8 minutes only and allows you to choose different exercises on different days of the week. 

-Indoor or outdoor bike ride for 30 min. 

-Early Morning yoga and breath work.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

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