Houston’s heat and humidity can really put a damper on outdoor workout routines. If anyone knows about these challenges and hazards, it’s head athletic trainer Brad Kimble of the Rice University Sports Medicine Department, responsible for overseeing the football program and all sports medicine operations at the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center. He shares some vital and surprising tips on staying healthy, active and hydrated during our sweltering months. Who knew that chocolate milk could be a great post-exercise recovery drink?
Besides running and walking, can you suggest other outdoor exercises for our warmer months? Change it up according to the weather. Water sports like paddle boarding are ideal because you can jump off in the water and cool down. Also, swimming, pool running and water fitness classes are perfect. Bike riding also provides more breeze than walking or running. Just be aware of your limits and be prepared with easy access to fluids.
What’s the best time to exercise outdoors to avoid Houston’s extreme heat and humidity? Avoid outdoor exercise between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Early morning and evening are best.
On staying hydrated: Why is this important and about how much water should we drink daily? If you are a training athlete, staying hydrated improves performance and can prevent illness. How much water you should consume is very individual—it depends on your weight and how much you sweat during intense exercise. Urine color is a good indication: the darker it is, the less hydrated you are.
What are signs you could be dehydrated and why is sweating imperative if you are overheating while exercising? If you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated. More serious dehydration will lead to fatigue, dizziness, headache, and dry mouth. Sweating is important because the perspiration evaporates to dissipate heat. Our humidity just adds to the problem, so dress the part. Wear light colored and moisture wicking clothing and bring small towels to wipe the sweat off.
What else can we supplement our diet with for increased hydration? Always have produce on your plate, which is 90 percent water. For peak performance, I suggest half of your plate be filled with fruit and vegetables. Also milk and yogurt contain water, and of course fruit slushies can cool you down quickly.
Should frequent outdoor exercisers consume sports drinks? If you are exercising outdoors from more than an hour, have a sports drink when you finish. Optionally, drink it beforehand to prepare for our heat and humidity. An 8 to 16-ounce bottle is fine for those who sweat more than normal. Sports drinks are pretty sweet, though.
Can you suggest electrolyte-rich foods to consume that might make a difference in overall hydration status? You want to replace the sodium lost during exercise, so salty foods like pretzels and popcorn post-workout are helpful (or you can just salt your food). Many people don’t realize that milk has sodium and it’s a good recovery drink. Do like the football players do, and have a cold glass of chocolate milk.
Brad Kimble is a certified member of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the College Athletic Trainers Society. In addition to holding certification in athletic training, Kimble is a certified National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) and Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES). He also holds certification in Functional Movement Screening (FMS) and Sound-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (SASTM).