Beat the Heat When You Exercise

Image of people staying cool while they exercise

When the warm weather of summer arrives, it can be refreshing and fun to take your exercise routine outdoors. But in our region, summertime means many days of temperatures in the triple digits - not ideal for outdoor activity!

While the best way to handle this type of extreme heat is to stay indoors in air conditioned comfort, it's still possible to be active during summer as long as you take a few precautions. Obviously an air conditioned gym is a great option, but if your exercise takes you outdoors, here are some tips from the CDC to help you beat the heat.

  • Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. These are necessary for your body and must be replaced. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. However, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen: Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids. It also causes pain and damages the skin. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) along with sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.
  • Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully: If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Try to rest often in shady areas so that your body's thermostat will have a chance to recover.
  • Pace Yourself: If you are not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
  • Use a Buddy System: When working or exercising in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.

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