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Cooling off before heating up

Comments (3)
By Peter Hadzipetros

Heat alerts, smog alerts. Welcome to summer in the 21st century and more excuses to sit around and not get exercise.

"It's just too damn hot" is a slightly better excuse for not getting out and maintaining your fitness than "I've got to find out who gets voted off tonight."

Well, most of the folks who study risks and benefits of exercise say the benefits of getting your butt off the couch on a hot day outweigh the risks, as long as you're a healthy and somewhat normal person.

If you're not prepared, there are some pretty nasty things that exercising in the heat can do to you.

Still, there are things you can do to cope. There's the easy stuff, like limiting your outdoor exercise time to those parts of the day when heat and smog levels are lowest — before seven in the morning and after eight at night.

And then there's cooling off. Before you exercise. Several studies have shown that cooling yourself before exercise will improve your performance in hot weather.

One study found that for endurance performance — anything over half an hour — you can do much better by cooling down your body before exercising than by doing a traditional warm-up. Participants in the study wore a cooling vest for 20 minutes before getting on a treadmill and running at progressively faster paces until they were exhausted. People who wore the vests had measurably lower heart rates and body temperatures than those who warmed up.

And it's not just for runners. A study that followed squash players came to similar conclusions.

Despite the evidence that pre-cooling works, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will recommend that you cool off before working out in the heat. Which is too bad, because you're doing your body a lot of good by slogging through the heat, even if it feels like you're barely able to move your feet.

If you want to make it slightly more bearable, you could soak in a cold tub before heading out.

I like to stick close to that big lake that keeps the U.S. a comfortable distance from Toronto — and hope for a bit of a breeze. Makes lying in the hammock and sipping on a cool beverage a little later that much more enjoyable.

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Comments (3)

Jim

Timmins

As long as you dont consider being sedentary, obese, & dull as a hazard... Sitting on the couch, watching TV is the only non-injurious activity one can do.
Growing up in a hockey-crazed area, my lack of dental work and facial scars are a testament to the fact that I never did master that sport (the glowing red circles on my thighs from taking a tennis ball @ -20deg eventually went away). Almost every other sport/passtime that I took up eventually left its mark on my body (literally): Multiple road rashes from rollerblading; lost toenails/raw nipples from running; twisted knee/broken finger from rugby; dislocated rib from a well paced squash ball; chewed up shins from mountain biking, chronic sore elbow/occasional hangovers from golf; and a very unique and intensely painful raw spot from road biking.
That being said; I like my cuts, bruises, scars, abrasions, and aches. I earned them. They remind me that I prefer to participate in life, rather than just be a passenger.

Posted July 16, 2007 10:13 AM

Angie

Burlington

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!!! First things first stop eating bonbons and get off the couch.

Posted July 5, 2007 11:01 AM

Darrow

Oakville

This is the time of year for the early morning, or the late night run. I went out this morning. The mild wind was cooling, and the absence of direct sunlight beaming down was a relief. I have some bright coloured shirts and a reflective vest for after-dark runs for this season. After 9:30-10 pm, the streets are quieter, and often cooler. Just dress for visibility, and leave the ipod at home!

Posted July 4, 2007 11:23 AM

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About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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On leading horses to water
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Monday, July 16, 2007
Another day, another toenail
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Cooling off before heating up
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Friday, June 29, 2007
Growing up cheating
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Friday, June 22, 2007
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As long as you dont consider being sedentary, obese, & du...
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Cooling off before heating up
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Cooling off before heating up

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