Beep, beep, beep! The local news alert for code orange comes up on the top of the television screen, suggesting people stay indoors and away from the blazing sun. These warnings are not to be taken lightly. I know that I, myself, have channeled my inner-invincibility and gone on long runs during the summer, despite warnings from many health professionals against engaging in strenuous outdoor activities in the intense heat. Typically after I step indoors after working out in the heat, I feel unusually tired and extremely thirsty. Conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common consequences of prolonged exposure to the sun. Keep these safety tips in mind during these hot summer months, in order to maximize the benefits of your workouts.
- Do more than quench your thirst! When you sweat, your body loses water, causing you to become dehydrated. When it is hotter outside, the rate at which you sweat and become dehydrated rapidly increases. Use these guidelines outlined by Dr. William O. Roberts of the University of Minnesota’s Phalen Village Clinic, to combat the heat and stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout: Drink about two and a half cups of water at least two hours prior to exercising, one cup shortly before you begin your workout, and gulps throughout your workout (about every fifteen to twenty minutes).
- Adjust your schedule. If you need to exercise outdoors during the summer, try to avoid the mid-day hours when the sun is strongest. Dr. Roberts recommends exercising early in the morning (before seven) or later in the evening (after six).
- Take it easy! Don’t try to beat Usain Bolt’s running record… At least not in the hot and humid weather. Take into account environmental changes, such as rises in temperature, humidity, and pollen count, and adjust the intensity and length of your workouts accordingly. A light jog will do the job of an intense run, minus the nasty after-effects of dizziness and heat exhaustion associated with pushing your body too hard in challenging weather.
- Keep it airy. Wearing heavy, long, and dark-colored clothing insulates heat, especially over the muscles that are being worked. Light and breathable clothing allows your skin to breathe and sweat at a reasonable rate, and won’t weigh you down as much during your workout.
Keep fit and healthy this summer, but please beware of extreme changes in the temperature outside and take precautionary measures before you begin your workouts.