Fitness Summer Gear Guide
Posted 6/10/2016 by UHBlog
It’s the perfect time of year to exercise outdoors. Do you know what gear you need to stay safe and injury-free while you train for your sport?
Sports medicine specialist Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD, recommends that you gear up with these seven must-have items:
- A Hydration System – Whether it’s a bottle to transport your water or a hydration backpack that allows you to run or cycle long distances, it’s Dr. Weiss Kelly’s No. 1 piece of equipment in which to invest.
“The most important thing with any sport you do in the summer is to find a way to stay hydrated,” she says. “If you’re a runner, bicyclist or on a team of any kind, make sure you have enough fluids – and that you drink regularly so you stay properly hydrated.”
Otherwise, you risk developing heat illness, which can lead to fatigue, poor performance, sore and/or aching muscles and, in worst cases, death. Water and/or sports drinks – which replenishes lost electrolytes – should be your beverages of choice.
- Phone/Tablet Apps – “Even if the temperature seems mild, you also need to be cognizant of the humidity,” she says. “There are charts you can download to help you know when it’s safe to exercise outside.” For example, the U.S. Army has an app – Soldier Water Estimation Tool (SWET) – that determines your water needs depending on the weather conditions. Likewise, the National Weather Service has a heat index chart you can use to assess your level of risk.
She also cautions the importance of acclimating to the heat and humidity.
“It can take an adult four to seven days to handle the temperature variations we have in Northeast Ohio,” she says. “For children, it can take seven to 14 days to handle the heat and humidity.”
In addition to tracking your water needs, consider using technology to chart your running or walking distance. Among the thousands of apps available, Nike+Running, Map My Run and Runkeeper can help you stay on pace. If you’re a bicyclist who rides on city roads, you might like an app such as Fill That Hole so you can avoid pot holes on your ride.
- Good Footwear – “Runners especially need good shoes to wear for the conditions they are running,” she says. “You want to switch out your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles, too, so you don’t develop shin splints, achy knee pain or other injuries.”
- Head Protection – Cyclists should always wear helmets, Dr. Weiss Kelly says. Additionally, some team sports, such as softball and baseball players, require helmets. If you play ball, be sure to invest in your own head protection.
“We advise people that they should wear a helmet whenever their head could be injured, no matter what their age or skill level,” she says.
- Clothing Designed for Your Sport – When it’s hot outside, don't be that person wearing the plastic running suit. Instead, buy breathable workout clothing. Clothing such as Dri-FIT or Climalite garments will make you feel more comfortable during hot, humid weather. She also recommends buying high-quality socks that will pad your feet.
- Waterproof Sunscreen – According to Dr. Weiss Kelly, runners, cyclists, swimmers and ball players have an increased risk of skin cancer because of the time spent in the sun. She recommends using a sweat-resistant sunscreen to protect yourself.
“If you’re a long-distance runner, you want to reapply sunscreen if you’re out for longer than an hour because it's likely you’ve sweated it off,” she says.
- Electronics – While these aren’t necessarily must haves, certain types of electronics can help make your training more fun and efficient. For instance, a watch, Garmin and/or a Fitbit can make tracking runs or bike rides easier and more enjoyable.
Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD is the division chief, Pediatric Sports Medicine at University Hospitals and the division chief, Pediatric Sports Medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. You can request an appointment with Dr. Weiss Kelly or any other University Hospitals doctor online.