Regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. But sometimes, outside factors like weather can get in the way. Be sure to take extra precautions during the summer months to continue reaching goals but stay safe while doing so. These are the top 10 tips for exercising in the heat.
1. Stay hydrated
Maintain enough fluids before, during, and after exercising in the heat. Drink cool water rather than cold water because the body absorbs cool water faster. Avoid sugary drinks. Drinking sugary beverages is not very beneficial in hot weather conditions because our bodies do not quickly process the excess carbs (from sugar).
2. Watch for warning signs
Listen to your body. Think about it like a car’s check engine light. Your body will often let you know in its own way that something is wrong. Don’t ignore these signals. Pause and take time to listen to the messages your body is sending you. If you start to experience the following symptoms, slow down and listen to your body.
- Muscle cramps
Take a break if you feel yourself getting too hot. You may place cool, wet towels or ice packs on your neck, forehead, and under your arms. Spray yourself with water from a hose or shower. Drink fluids such as water or a sports drink. If you don’t feel better within about 20 minutes, seek emergency medical care.
3. Choose the right time
Be strategic about when you choose to exercise. If possible, try to avoid strenuous exercising during the midday hour. During this time of direct sunlight, there is minimal shade. Choose a time in the morning or evening when temperatures are a bit cooler and more shady areas are available.
4. Dress accordingly
Wear light, breathable clothing to give your body enough room to sweat. Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling itself off from the inside. Wear light colors as opposed to dark ones. Dark colors absorb warmth and will contribute to an elevated core body temperature. Exercising in light and bright colors reflects light and will aid in keeping you cool.
5. Protect yourself from the sun
Protect your skin by wearing a hat and/or sunglasses. Wear sunscreen to minimize damaging your skin.
6. Take it indoors
The most surefire way to avoid illness is to avoid the extremely hot conditions. Take it easy by exercising indoors instead.
7. Know your limits
Extreme weather conditions put a strain on even the most elite athletes. Do not push yourself too hard. Be kind to your body by choosing a less strenuous workout on this kind of day. Walk instead of run. Try a workout like yoga that does not raise your heart rate as much while still giving your body the movement it needs.
8. Plan your trip
Familiarize yourself with the environment you plan to be in. Check the anticipated weather conditions and plan accordingly. Take into account the heat index and weather advisories. Kow your route and its climate. Ask yourself if there are shady spots or water fountains along the way.
9. Watch for humidity
The humidity is also way up. You’re in double trouble because your sweat “sticks” to your skin; it doesn’t evaporate as readily, which can send body temperature even higher.
10. Eat the right stuff
Have a light snack beforehand that won’t fill you up too much while providing essential nutrients.
Whole fruits are a smart choice. Drinks aren’t the only way to stay hydrated. A few not-so-good choices include dry snacks like crackers, popcorn, or energy bars that require your body to add water.
What’s the worst that could happen?
The bottom line is that being overheated and dehydrated is dangerous for our bodies. We must take proper precautions to ensure we are doing the best we can for ourselves and our bodies. Take care of yourself to prevent going into heatstroke, which can be fatal in the worst cases.
If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.