The question: How can I motivate myself to exercise in the heat? On hot days I just want to go home after work and sit in my air-conditioning.
The answer: Believe me, I understand. I love being active, especially outdoors, but the heat can make working out less fun – and more dangerous. Sometimes the heat makes me feel like I am trying to run through peanut butter! Try this: For two weeks, rate and record your mood (out of 10) before and after your workout. When I did this, I was usually a 4 to 6 before exercise and a 7 to 9 after.
Now, whenever I want to skip a workout, I remind myself that I always feel better post-exercise. In fact, the worse I feel, the more I know I need the physical activity. My mood has so much room for improvement.
This experiment taught me that skipping my workout is just not an option, so I find ways to work around the heat. For example, I tried a new indoor fitness class – a new challenge always motivates me. Plus, registering in advance keeps me from cancelling at the last minute since I don't like to waste money.
It's an added bonus if I can try a new class with friends. "Fitness dates" make workouts more fun, plus I know I won't bail if someone is waiting for me. This summer I have gone on fitness dates to Crossfit, ballet barre and Zumba classes.
When possible, I swim more and replace outdoor running with water running, treadmill running or biking. I find cycling more enjoyable then running in the heat since the speed of the bike creates a slight breeze. If you must run, try avoiding the worst of the heat by running early in the morning or after dinner. Just make sure to wear reflective clothing.
If I can't get to the gym, I do a mini-workout in my living room. Body weight exercises like push-ups, planks, squats and lunges don't require equipment or lots of space. Remember, a small workout is always better than no workout!
Trainer's tip: Set yourself up for success by staying hydrated. Dehydration makes me feel hungry, tired and lethargic. Hunger, exhaustion and lethargy, especially all at once, can definitely make you want to go home and relax on the sofa instead of working out.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.
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