We have all seen them — runners, cyclists, power walkers pushing themselves under the blazing summer sun, awash in sweat, faces fierce with determination or blank with exhaustion, refusing to yield to atmospheric conditions. And we ask ourselves — Is that really necessary?
Ask a committed exerciser, and the answer is “yes.” And if the exercise of choice happens to be a particularly demanding one, such as running, he or she is not likely to be deterred from doing so until the weather cools off. The so-called “runner’s high,” caused by the release of neurochemicals in the brain called endorphins during intense exercise, will compel a runner to hit the asphalt despite high heat and humidity.
And other people want to keep up their exercise regimen in the summer for medical, recreational or social reasons.
So, how does someone who loves and/or needs to exercise do it safely in the heat of summer?
It is wise for most athletes — but especially beginners, seniors,and those with pre-existing medical conditions — to speak with their health care provider before engaging in an exercise program, and even more so in the hot months.
After it’s clear that it is medically safe for the would-be athlete to exercise, he or she must follow a few “common sense” rules, according to David Greene, a personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist at HealthLinks@FoxCare fitness center in Oneonta.
“But common sense isn’t that common,” Greene said.
Greene’s first exercise rule is “Know thyself. Listen to your body.”
“Lower expectations,” Greene advised. “Don’t try to set records. Slow down. Understand that the elements will play a big part in your performance ability.”
The time of day of exercise is critical during hot weather, according to Courtney Place, an adjunct lecturer in the State University College at Oneonta physical education department, and a group fitness instructor and manager and personal trainer at the Oneonta YMCA.