How to beat the heat
If you are usually hard-pressed for time and can only take out 35 to 40 minutes for your workout, don’t fret. Fitness expert Abhishek Sharma, who is also the author of Fitness on the Go, charts out a plan for you.
The 40-minute routine
“Start with a light warm-up of spot jogging, a short walk or jog outside and then come indoors for body weight bearing exercises such as push ups, squats and sit-ups, addressing different parts of the body. You can do short explosive cardio exercises like skipping, climbing stairs or spot jogging with knees raised high. Cool down with a walk which can be done indoors for five minutes, followed by yoga postures like cobra, rabbit, cat stretch and Shavasana to relax the body,” says Sharma. He adds that Surya namaskar and deep breathing exercises can also be included in the cool down. He explains that summer months are not good for long drawn, high-intensity workouts except once in a while as it weakens the immunity and can lead to dehydration. “It is better to do short and light intensity workouts on a regular basis and go for a trek once in a while as it’s a great exercise. The heat also reduces the chances of injury so after a short warm-up you can try explosive movements like a sprint, jumps, kicks, etc without worrying too much about injuring yourself,” avers the fitness expert.
The best time for outdoor workouts in summer is either very early in the morning or late in the evening, to avoid the harsh sun. “Even early in the morning one should always carry a bottle of water when working out outdoors,” says Sharma.
“One should listen to the body. Hot summer months are not ideal to push the body excessively as it might weaken your immunity and make you unwell. If you feel unexplained tiredness, a headache, dizziness or dry mouth, do not push yourself, instead drink water and do a light walk in fresh air; get good rest and sleep. Return for a workout when you feel better,” he adds.
Sharma feels that to make the most of indoor workouts, it’s important to open the windows for cross ventilation. “If you have a balcony, it is a great place to have the advantage of indoors and outdoors,” he says, adding that one should take a break from the usual workouts one has been doing outdoors and do new things indoors in summer. “Put a pull-up bar at your doorway and do exercises using the bar, after warming up by climbing stairs. You can even join a martial arts or a dance class in summer, and get back to your outdoor routine when the weather is better for outdoors. Variety in exercise is important to break the monotony and it is good to modify your workouts or do different things in different seasons for all-round physical fitness,” he maintains.
Watch out for these summer blunders
Summer calls for special care during your fitness routines. Fitness and wellness expert Vesna P Jacob, who is the author of Work It Out Without A Workout, says that a few fundamental mistakes go a long way in creating problems during your exercise routine in summer.
“We live in a hot country — you lose water while you exercise and also while you perspire, due to the heat. It’s not just about consuming a lot of water but also about replenishing the electrolytes. You can sip on coconut water or water mixed with sugar and salt.” While people may feel that sweating more helps lose weight, Jacob cautions against it: “You will just lose water not fat and it will cause dehydration.”
Adjust to temperatures
Another common mistake is to exercise in an extremely cold air-conditioned room during summer. “It creates a lot of confusion for the body as the outdoor temperature may be 45 degrees while in the gym room it may be just 18 degrees. It is a shock for the body. It’s best to keep the room on the warmer side (approximately 20-45 degrees),” she adds.
Get your dose of sunshine
While the sunlight may be harsh, it’s best not to stay cut-off from it totally as it’s an essential source of Vitamin D. “Make sure you wear a hat to protect the top of your head. If you want to cool down then an effective tactic is to submerge your hands in ice-cold water and pour water on your neck. You can also squeeze a wet towel on the top of your head,” she suggests.
In terms of apparel, Jacob favours natural organic materials over synthetic materials as they let the skin breathe. “Some brands offer fitness apparel that uses the latest technology and they are also good at ensuring ventilation. Ensure that the outfits are not super-tight,” Jacob adds.
She also advises people to keep their diet as light as possible. “Eat lots of raw foods, salads and vegetables. Cucumber and lauki are good options as they are full of water. Stay away from heavy meals such as parathas and ghee-laden foodstuffs. A South Indian meal of idlis, dosas and consuming fish is also good. Opt for light, steamed foodstuffs instead of fried or overcooked food. It will help you feel lighter through the summer months,” she concludes.