Summer is almost here. Did you know there are different rules to exercise safely in the heat? Your body has different needs and dehydration is a real risk. Typically when you exercise, your body is warmer than the environment, but when it’s not, your muscles regulate heat by releasing sweat, which allows the body to cool itself. When you sweat, you’re losing fluid, and unless you’re replenishing that lost fluid, you’re in danger of dehydration, heat exhaustion and stroke.
When you’re dehydrated, your body can no longer cool itself by sweating, and begins storing heat inside. As your core body temperature begins to rise, you put yourself at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Signs of heat exhaustion include fatigue, weakness, nausea, and muscle cramps. Heat stroke is much more serious and symptoms include internal body temperatures over 104, inability to sweat, respiratory distress and loss of consciousness. Exercise safely by adhering to these 10 tips:
- Time of Day – avoid exercising during the hours of 10-3, since they are typically the hottest. Aim for early morning or evening workouts.
- Clothing – choose light colors to reflect heat and specially designed clothing that can wick moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and cool.
- Sunscreen – apply a liberal amount of sunscreen before any outside exercise. Look for broad-spectrum coverage with an SPF of at least 45.
- Weather – check the weather report for any warnings. Heat advisories or poor air quality warnings should be heeded.
- Hydration – this is crucial. Drink a glass or two of water prior to heading out, carry water with you and drink another glass or two when you’re finished.
- Buddy – exercise with a friend. It’s safer if something goes wrong and can be more fun.
- Shade – if you’re going for a run, seek out a shady path or trail instead of running on the road in direct sunlight. Shaded areas can be up to 10 degrees cooler!
- Ease – if you’re used to a strenuous workout in cooler temperatures, keep in mind you may need to ease up when it’s hot out. Listen to your body and take it easy.
- Water Workout – need a cool workout in the heat? Head for water! Water exercise is ideal since it naturally cools your body. Just remember, you still need to stay hydrated while exercising in water.
- Electrolytes – all that sweat makes you lose electrolytes. They’re important for proper body functioning. Sport drinks help you replace electrolytes because they have added sodium chloride or potassium chloride.