Exercising in the Heat: What You Need To Know July 2, 2012
Exercising in the Heat: What You Need To Know July 2, 2012

Now that another Summer is upon us and the days are longer with the temperatures rising, who doesn’t want to get outside? There’s nothing better than going for a run, a hike or a bike ride on a nice sunny Summer day.

But before you head outside into the sun for that workout, here are a few things to consider.

Consult your Doctor
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times before; consult your doctor before doing this or that. And, I’m going to say it one more time: If you’re a novice or beginner or have not exercised is a while, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you are an experienced exerciser and have been exercising on a regular basis, you should be okay, but it’s always a good idea to get a quick check-up.

Hydrate
Dehydration is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to exercising in the heat. When you exercise, your body temperature increases, and you sweat as a way to cool down. On hot days, your temperature increases even more, so you sweat more. Sweating means lost fluids, which can result in dehydration, that can be lethal. It’s a good idea to drink a large glass of water an hour or so before you plan on exercising. Then continually take a few gulps of water every 10-15 minutes during the workout.

Clothing
There’s a whole new market of exercise clothing designed specifically for outdoor activity that can do everything from wicking away your sweat, protecting you from getting sunburn, helping you stay cool and making you look good in the process. The key is to wear lightweight, breathable fabrics that are also light in color to reflect the sun.

Time of Day
We all know the sun is strongest around 12PM, so it is probably not the best idea to head out for your workout right at noon. Try to get out early in the morning or later in the evening when the day is coolest. Mornings are usually better as humidity can build throughout the day, leaving the evening very muggy.

Know your Route
The hottest day of the year is definitely not the time to try out that new route you’ve heard about. Make sure you know where you’re going, how far the route is and what’s along the way in case you get into a spot of bother. This is a good idea on any day, but particularly when the mercury is high. Last thing you want is to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the blazing sun, trying to find your way home.

Wear Protection
Just because it’s cloudy and the sun’s not shining through does not mean you can’t get burned. Those pesky UVA & UVB rays will get you no matter what. So as the song says wear sunscreen. There are many different sunscreen available, so do your research for what’s best for you. A hat is also a good idea to help protect your head, face and neck. Just be sure to take it off now and then to let your head breath and some of that hot air escape. Sunglasses are also advisable, especially if you’re anywhere around water. However, be careful not to end up with panda eyes.

Signs of Heat Stroke
Its a good idea to know and pay attention to the signs of heat stroke and heat-related illness. Symptoms include:
-Muscle cramping
-Nausea &/or vomiting
-Headache &/or dizziness
-Confusion &/or disorientation
-Difficulty breathing
-Absence of sweating
-Weakness
If you start to experience any of these symptoms, you should stop exercising, get out of the heat, try to lower your body temperature and hydrate.

Start Smart
The best piece of advice is just to be sensible and stay smart. Check the weather forecast. If it’s going to be a scorcher, then don’t try to be a hero and start your new exercise schedule on that day. Even if you do exercise regularly and are on a specific training schedule, sometimes it’s okay to skip the day when the mercury is bubbling. If you can’t live without getting that workout in, then hit the air conditioned gym instead.

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