Phoenix Ignition Fitness Company

Fitness by the fire: Summer focus with your fitness goals

by Ron Kennedy • May 23, 2019
Summertime is finally upon us. All the work you have put into your health and wellness is about to be shown off. All the sacrifices you have made during the colder months are about to be repaid. All the looks you will get at the pool side, the confidence you are going to exude, the feelings of euphoria as you find outfits that cover up less and less to display you are committed to a fitness lifestyle, am I right…??

Or perhaps you have not put forth any effort whatsoever, and the overwhelming guilt of yet another swimsuit season you will be hiding from is going to cause you to finally do something about your fitness needs.

Either way, summer is one of the best times to stay motivated and dedicated to you. Yes, there are probably more distractions than any other time of the year. When else during the year can you start the day with a 5AM sunrise jog, followed by a shower and mimosas with friends, just to go to an early day pool party, run home for a brief nap, just to get ready for happy and a night of socializing and dancing? Ok, to be honest, that certainly isn’t real life for me. Being a family man with a beautiful wife and two children(one of which is 10 months old and has the demanding personality of a Spetsnaz(Russian special forces) commander), it has been a long time since I had a day like that, but the point is that summer is the best time to have those experiences. With all the fun opportunities, travel plans, concerts and festivals, and generally trying to avoid the massive heat waves, it is very easy to fall out a fitness routine. Yet, from a physical and mental perspective, summer is one of the best times to hone your focus even further.

Wanting to maintain health alone is a worthy commitment, but here are a few other noteworthy benefits to dedicating yourself to a serious fitness program during summer.

Warm weather can affect your metabolism:

Metabolism is the chemical process your body goes through to convert the food you eat into energy for every part of your body to function. The more energy your body needs to maintain basic bodily functions, the higher your metabolism; conversely, the less energy your body needs, the lower your metabolism. Your body is constantly regulating its core temperature to around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). When your climate heavily differs from this temperature, due to cold or heat, your body extends more energy by shivering to heat up or sweating to cool down – all in an effort to maintain its preferred temperature. With warmer weather, your body will expel water for efficiently to cool body, which means you will flush water weight much more quickly, and energy will be processed faster with the increases to eternal body temperature. You should also notice a decrease in appetite since you body will not want to carry around excess weight in such a warm climate.

Improve your V02 maximum output:

To keep things simple, V02 max is a measurement of how the body consumes and uses oxygen. Full disclosure, I do not test V02 max as testing typically is handled in a lab, doctors office, or rehabilitation facility. I do however acknowledge the importance of the data within certain sports such as running or cycling. The higher the number the better.
Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures. In fact, heat acclimation may actually be more beneficial than altitude training in eliciting positive physiological adaptations, research has shown.  Santiago Lorenzo, a professor of physiology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine said, “Heat acclimation provides more substantial environmental specific improvements in aerobic performance than altitude acclimation.” This was quoted from an article he wrote about runners training in hot temperatures as opposed to higher elevation. In other words, heat training not only does a better job at increasing V02 max than altitude, but it also makes athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures. 

Cardiovascular Conditioning:

 Ideally, during exercise we want the heart to pump out as much blood as possible in each beat so that the heart rate doesn’t skyrocket to sustain a given workload. What happens in the heat, however, is less than ideal for that expected result. With more blood at the periphery, there is less blood flowing to the heart. This decreases cardiac filling and stroke volume — the amount of blood that is pumped from the heart. To compensate, heart rate increases to sustain the workload. As a result, the relative intensity of exercise increases, more stress is placed on the heart and we max out sooner. In other words, running for 10 minutes feels like you have been running for 15 minutes with greater speeds because the heart is working that much harder.

Also, if blood volume decreases from high sweat rates (a loss of plasma) there is an increase in blood viscosity — a higher concentration of red blood cells — which puts more stress on the heart and vessels.

With these benefits of exercising in warmer, hopefully you have been giving some reasons to either starting too or beginning taking your exercise more seriously. In either case, here are some standard pointers to help keep yourself accountable to your health and fitness goals:

Be realistic. Never expect to lose 20 pounds in two weeks or even three. Set goals that are realistic with the effort and commitment that you can give to them. Also, make sure you have the resources available to achieve your goals. Don’t choose swimming as your form of exercise if you don’t have access to a pool or running outdoors when it’s going to be so hot.

Consider the obstacles. Think about what might get in the way of your going for a brisk walk or biking at least three times a week. Yes, the weather in the Phoenix valley is about to match the surface of the sun, but that doesn’t stop you from getting out in it early in the morning, and most fitness centers have air conditioning after all.

Talk to a trainer. It’s important that your exercise routine be made of activities you like. So many people are turned off from fitness from the mundane, day to day repeating exercises. As I have mentioned countless times, dynamic training is the only way to go in my opinion as it changes the routines every single day. If not working with a professional full time, why not consult with one to see if they can offer a flexible routine you can adjust and modify on your own?

Enjoy the warms months ahead and all the activities and events to ensue, but don’t abandon all the progress you have made thus far (or cease the progress you are currently making) just from the general laid back mentality that accompanies the season.