Exercising in the Heat: Stay Safe and Beat the Heat!
By Amy Rupley, Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer
Editor’s Note: Amy is a Physical Therapist at Woodlawn Health
As the sunny days of early summer begin, many fitness enthusiasts are eager to take their workouts outdoors. However, with the increasing temperatures, it is crucial to exercise caution and prioritize safety to avoid heat-related illnesses. Whether you’re running, cycling, or engaging in any physical activity, here are some essential tips to exercise safely in the heat.
1. Time It Right: Plan your workout during the cooler hours of the day. Early mornings or evenings are ideal for exercising in the summer when the sun is less intense. Avoid the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the heat is at its highest.
2. Stay Hydrated: Hydration is the key to staying safe in the heat. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to replenish the fluids your body loses through sweat. Also, select water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes to restore minerals lost during prolonged physical activity.
3. Dress Appropriately: Choose lightweight, breathable, and light-colored clothing that allows your skin to breathe and wicks away moisture. Loose-fitting clothes help air circulate around your body, keeping you cool. Don’t forget to wear a wide-brimmed hat and apply sunscreen with a high SPF to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
4. Pace Yourself: Take it easy and adjust your workout intensity to the heat. Listen to your body and be mindful of any signs of heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, nausea, or excessive sweating. If you experience any symptoms, find a shaded area, rest, and cool down.
5. Seek Shade: Whenever possible, choose shaded areas for your workout. Running or exercising near trees or buildings can provide relief from direct sunlight.
6. Know the Warning Signs: Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness can include excessive sweating, fatigue, and dizziness. You may also experience muscle cramps, nausea, and headaches as your body struggles to regulate its temperature. In severe cases, heatstroke can occur, characterized by a high body temperature, confusion, rapid heartbeat, and even loss of consciousness.
7. Acclimate Gradually: If you’re not used to exercising in the heat, give your body time to acclimate. Start with shorter workouts and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time. This allows your body to adjust to the higher temperatures more effectively.
8. Buddy Up: Consider exercising with a friend or in a group. Not only does it make your workout more enjoyable, but it also ensures that you have someone to keep an eye out for each other’s well-being. Look out for signs of distress and support each other in staying safe.
Remember, safety should always be a top priority when exercising in the heat. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy your outdoor workouts while minimizing the risks associated with high temperatures. Stay hydrated, listen to your body, and take breaks as needed. Together, let’s embrace the summer and stay fit while staying safe!