It’s starting to heat up outside! It is very important to be prepared for the rising temperature. It can take up to fourteen days to get acclimated to the heat. Exercising in the heat can be very risky. Take extreme precautions to avoid any life-threatening heat related illnesses (please review the attached graphic for heat stroke symptoms and prevention tips). Always consult your physician, health care professional, and physical therapist before beginning any exercise routine. Additionally, carry your cell phone and tell a friend where you are going. Here are four simple tips to follow when exercising in the heat.
First, stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking fluids. Drink before, during, and after exercise. Two hours prior consider drinking 20 oz of fluid. During exercise you may want to carry a handle held water bottle or a belt that contains drink flasks. If you’re exercising in the heat longer than 45 minutes you will want to consume a sports drink that replace the electrolytes lost in sweat. A recommended amount is 8oz every 30 minutes. Make sure you continue to drink after exercise to replenish all the sweat that was lost.
Second, avoid midday exercise. If possible, get out before 7 am or after 6 pm. Exercising in the morning will add length to your day and boost your energy level! Additionally, if possible, plan a route that includes shaded areas and stay clear of black asphalt paths and roads. If exercising strictly for health benefits it is wise to stay indoors during extremely hot summer days.
Third, decrease the duration and intensity of exercise. If you’re new to exercise be very cautious when exercising in the heat. For avid exercises, reduce the time you are outside and take frequent rest breaks. Don’t go out looking to set a personal record. Realize with an increase in the heat and humidity your routine may take you longer and times will be slower.
Fourth, dress appropriately. Lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat are best for exercising in the heat. Avoid cotton and dark clothing. Wear clothing that is light in color in order to reflect the sun. Besides sunscreen, protect your face by wearing a moisture wicking hat and sunglasses. If your activity involves wearing a helmet remove it during rest periods to allow your head to cool off.
Use these four tips and use common sense. If you’re feeling horrible, you need to get inside, and cool yourself down immediately. Reevaluate your plan and begin again when you’re hydrated and well rested. Stay safe!