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As summer draws near, people exercising outdoors – from newcomers to top athletes – should make adjustments or their workouts could suffer, says Marni Sumbal, a prominent exercise physiologist and board-certified sports dietitian.
Sumbal, the co-owner of TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition in Greenville, S.C., recommends reducing workout intensity until you adjust to the heat. She also suggests amping up your hydration, taking cold baths as part of your cooldown and soaking in Epsom salt to help muscles recover.
“We’ve been using Epsom salt for a long time,” says Sumbal, who is widely quoted in several of the nation’s top sports and health-related magazines. The list includes Shape, Women’s Health, Men’s Journal, Runner’s World, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Running.
“We really like it after very intense workouts,” Sumbal says of Epsom salt, which is actually magnesium sulfate. “Your body absorbs the magnesium through your skin to help reduce inflammation. Then you can get back to training quicker.”
If you don’t want to reduce the intensity, work out either early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun is down. You can also spend at least part of the workout indoors.
During a 60-minute workout, drink 20 to 28 ounces of either water or a sports drink. Sports drinks can be especially helpful because they contain carbohydrates (Sumbal recommends consuming at least 30 to 60 grams) as well as electrolytes (consume at least 400 milligrams of sodium). Afterward, she suggests either tart cherry juice to help with inflammation or orange juice that quenches thirst and contains potassium.
“We really want to make sure the magnesium is absorbed, so soak for 20 to 40 minutes,” Sumbal says.
If a bath isn’t an option, she recommends scrubbing Epsom salt into your skin during a shower.