Summer. It's a favorite season for many
, but with the sunshine, beach, and no school comes high temperatures and hot, hot heat. This is even more unpleasant when you're outside at cheer practice or camp. Everything feels harder to do; you're sweating; you're exhausted; and you just want to take a nap under a beach umbrella.
While we can't help you convince your coach to replace a practice session with a beach day or make the sun shrink its hot rays, we can help you beat the heat.
How do you keep cool during the hot summer?
- Never underestimate the power of a cold shower. While this is especially the case after cheer practice, it applies to almost any summer activity (even swimming). Most pools or oceans can't get as cold as your shower can in the summer. If you're feeling hot or uncomfortable, a cold shower can really help. It's the fastest way to cool down your body. If you feel flushed or your face is hot and red, a cold shower can do wonders (even if you don't necessarily feel hot all over).
- Take cover. If you're outside and feeling the sun taking a toll, find shade! Even if it's not the darkest patch of shade, a small amount can make the difference. What's great about the shade is that, even if it's not necessarily cooler, it blocks the sun from directly beating down on you.
- Avoid the outdoors during the peak of the day. If you can, try to stay indoors between noon and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest. If you have practice, talk with your coach about scheduling practice for the mornings or evenings rather than the middle of the day.
- Dress right. Wearing the right clothing can really help you cool down. If you're out and about town or at the beach, stick with light and loose cotton clothing, like sundresses, skirts, shorts, and tank tops. Skip anything tight or made of a non-breathable fabric like polyester. A hat can provide some shade and, if you wear shoes instead of sandals, pair them with thin cotton socks. For practice, stick with tanks and shorts made with a breathable fabric like cotton or a sweat-absorbing material like Chassé's C-dri fabric. Try to avoid wearing dark colors if possible, especially black. White and other light colors reflect the sunlight, while dark colors absorb it.
- Hydrate ahead of time. Don't wait to go outside to start drinking water. If you plan to spend time in the sun or are heading to practice, drink plenty of fluids hours ahead of time. The more hydrated you are, the cooler your body will stay.
- Hydrate again (and again). Once you've hydrated, you've got to stay hydrated! When it's hot, you can never drink too much water, especially cold water, which can help bring down your body temperature. Whether you're hard at work at practice or just laying on the beach, the heat will dehydrate you.
- Read up on heat-related illnesses. Don't take the heat lightly. It can make someone seriously sick. Know the symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration. Not only will it help you from getting ill, it will also help you know if a friend or teammate is experiencing a heat-related illness and know how to help her recover.
- Don't use just any sunscreen. When temperatures are high, the sun is bright, and you're outside for long periods of time, don't reach for just any sunscreen. Look for one that has at least SPF 30 and has one or more of these three magic ingredients: zinc, titanium, and avobenzone. Only a sunscreen with SPF 30+ and one of those ingredients will block both UVA and UVB rays. Also, remember to reapply often: at least every two hours (if not more often). You can never wear too much sunscreen.
- Eat frequently. Just as it's important to hydrate, it's important to eat. The sun takes more energy out of you. If you do 10 push-ups on a cool day and 10 push-ups on a hot day, you're working much harder on the hot day. As a result, your body needs constant nourishment.
- Eat the right foods. Just because we say eat frequently doesn't mean you can eat anything. In order for you to stay energized and fueled, you need to eat the right foods often. Stick to cold, light foods, like vegetables and fruit (which also contain water in them!). Skip anything heavy (like burgers and pizza), hot (like soup) or excessively salty (like popcorn or pretzels). In order to keep up your protein intake, try beef jerky, protein bars, or protein shakes.
- Turn your house into a dark cave. If you're spending the day inside, make the most of the cold air-conditioned air. Close all windows, blinds, and curtains. Try to keep the house as dark as possible, which will keep a lot of heat out.
- Skip the oven; use the microwave. Appliances can really heat up an entire house. If you're staying indoors, avoid using the oven, washing machine, dryer, or dish washer during the day and save it for the evening once it cools down.
- Get out a squirt bottle. Whether you're at home or outside at practice, a squirt bottle is a simple way to cool down. Fill it with cold water or add ice to keep it colder longer. Then, spray yourself when you start feeling hot. Go for the areas that will help your entire body cool down the most: your forehead and the nape of your neck.