By Joe Decker
Summer is the perfect time to go outside and have fun. It's one of my favorite times of year because there are so many outdoor activities to choose from. Everything is more fun outside, whether you're swimming, running or cycling.
But the summer heat can be a problem if you're not careful, particularly in areas with extreme heat and humidity.
After experiencing the Badwater Ultramarathon (a 135-mile run through Death Valley) and the Marathon des Sables (a six-day, 152-mile endurance race through the Sahara Desert), I've learned a few things about exercising in the heat.
For me, the biggest problems were staying hydrated and maintaining my body's electrolytes and salt. When you sweat, your body loses not only water, but electrolytes and salt, too. This delicate balance of water and electrolytes is crucial to keep your body functioning properly.
If you don't drink enough water, you can get dehydrated and suffer from light-headedness and nausea. If not recognized, dehydration can even result in kidney failure and or, in extreme cases, death. However, if you drink too much water without replenishing your electrolytes, you can experience hyponatremia. This can lead to confusion, nausea, muscle cramps, seizures or even death in extreme cases.
You may not be racing in the desert, but there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to exercising in the heat:
Joe Decker is an ultra-endurance power athlete and renowned fitness trainer who has helped thousands of people get into shape. He has completed many of the world's toughest endurance events, including the Badwater 135, and the Grand Slam of UltraRunning. In 2000, Joe broke the Guinness World Records Twenty-four-hour Physical Fitness Challenge to help inspire and motivate people to get fit. He is recognized as "The World's Fittest Man." Visit his website at www.joe-decker.com