Avoiding Dehydration in the NC Summer Heat
Written by: Coach Julianne Chappell
Showing up for a workout in the southern heat is tough; the bars get slippery, your shirt will be a soggy mess, and even nice folks get a little territorial about the fans. Here are a few things to keep in mind about summertime WODs.
Dehydration happens faster than you might realize.
In humid conditions the air is already saturated, so sweat does not readily evaporate and therefore cannot cool us effectively. This leaves us with a higher body temperature, which in turn causes even more sweating. Additionally, the mix of gases that we exhale is 5-6% water vapor, meaning that even if your shirt is dry, you lose water with every breath taken. Remember that dehydration not only decreases the body’s ability to efficiently use oxygen to provide energy, even mild cases are associated with cognitive impairment.
Attending early morning or late evening classes to take advantage of the best temperature conditions is obvious, but what if your schedule won’t allow it? Wear light, moisture wicking clothes, avoid direct sunlight whenever possible, and stay hydrated. If you are having trouble cooling down after a workout, try wetting a towel with cold water and placing it across your forehead or the back of your neck.
Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion (dizziness, muscle cramps, sudden rise in heart rate, vomiting, dry mouth) and stop, rest, and notify your coach if you experience any of them.
Our bodies are adapting. We may need to back off a bit initially, but eventually we will get used to it. Acclimatization takes about two weeks, then plasma volumes increase, allowing our bodies to sweat better and our heart rate to slow a bit even while exercising.
If you still can’t help but feel frustrated by the grueling temperatures and downright viscous air, take heart - there is some evidence that the adaptations resulting from training in the heat may offer us advantages over our more pampered brethren, working out in air-conditioned gyms. Check it out: