Exercising and Water Sports in the Summer

The dog days of summer are upon us, but you don’t have to stop exercising outside just because of the warmer temperatures. NovaCare Rehabilitation’s Paul Hansen, ATC, from our Minnesota community, and Select Physical Therapy’s Andy Prishack, P.T., ATC/L, center manager, from the Fair Oaks, VA center, explain how to keep safe while enjoying some of your favorite summer activities.

• Avoid exercising between the hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as that is considered the hottest part of the day. Limit high intensity workouts to either early morning or early evening hours when the sun’s radiation is minimal.

• Stay hydrated by drinking a glass or two of water before you head outside. If possible, carry a bottle of water or even a hydration pack and take a drink every 15 minutes even if you’re not thirsty. The easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated; if it’s dark you need to drink more fluids.

• Wear clothing that’s light in color, lightweight and has vents or mesh. Microfiber polyesters and cotton blends are good examples. The lighter colors will help reflect heat and the cotton material will help with the evaporation of sweat.

• Feeling nauseous, dizzy or exhausted, along with moist and flushed skin are symptoms of heat exhaustion. Stop what you’re doing and get out of the heat. Remove or loosen any tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths. Slowly drink a half-glass of cool water to rehydrate yourself and continue doing so every 15 minutes until you feel better.

With the temperature rising, many are also headed to the nearest body of water with kayaks, surf and paddle boards. Water sports are an excellent way to get in exercise and challenge our upper body strength and balance. Heather Wnorowski, P.T., from NovaCare Rehabilitation’s Sewell, NJ center, has a few tips to keep in mind for the water sports novice and seasoned pro.

• Always get in an adequate warm-up. While the temperatures may be warm, it doesn’t mean our muscles are. Dynamic stretching is a great way to get your blood circulating and muscles warm before hitting the water.

• Since water sports are heavily dependent on our shoulders, it’s important to strengthen your postural and rotator cuff muscles in order to avoid repetitive stresses and impingements of the shoulder.

• Don’t forget the rotational mobility of your mid-back! Kayaking and other paddle sports involve a lot of thoracic spine rotation in order to propel you forward. Make sure you’re able to twist from side to side without pain before heading out for a day on the water.

• Last but not least is balance! Balance is an important part of maintaining an upright position while on the water. Practice standing on one leg at home. Once you’ve mastered that, try standing on a foam cushion and closing your eyes. Make sure you have someone or something nearby to hold onto in case you lose your balance.

Have a great summer and be sure to stay safe out in the heat!

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