Summer is a great time of year to take advantage of exercising outdoors. With so many options like cycling, swimming, running, hiking, rowing and so much more, the season is packed with alternative and fun ways to keep fit. While staying active is important to keep healthy, fit and full of energy, there are special guidelines to consider to ensure that you exercise safely and are properly prepared for the heat. Under normal conditions, your body’s perspiration level is better able to regulate your temperature.
However, exercising while exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long can increase your body temperature to dangerous levels that may result in heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Whether exercising indoors or out, it’s important that your body does not overheat and can cool down adequately for a safe and effective workout. Some of us may need more time to gradually adapt to the warmer, more humid temperatures. Avoiding overexertion and heat-related illnesses takes caution and a bit of common sense. Here are some helpful tips on how you can keep cool and prepare to exercise safely during the hot summer season.
It’s important to wear lightweight clothing that allows your skin to breathe. Choosing fabrics like poly-cotton fiber blends allows perspiration to be whisked away from your body, allowing it to evaporate easily. Also dressing in light colored clothing helps to reflect the sunlight better than wearing darker colors.
Increase the length and intensity of your workouts slowly to allow yourself to gradually adapt to the heat. Make necessary adjustments to your workout – Stop or slow down depending on your body’s response to the activity. Avoid over-exerting yourself. If you have a medical condition or take medication, ask your doctor if you need to take additional precautions.
Stay well hydrated
Dehydration can be avoided simply by maintaining proper fluid intake. Your body’s ability to sweat and cool down depends on adequate hydration. The body can easily lose up to a quart of water per hour while exercising in the hot weather. Make sure that you drink water before, during and after exercising. Drink approximately 8 oz. of cold water 15 minutes before beginning exercise. While exercising, drink 8 oz. of water every 15-20 minutes. If you’re planning to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour, consider using sports drinks instead as they can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium that you lose through sweating. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, which actually promote fluid loss.
Avoid exercise in the midday sun.
Very hot and humid weather hampers perspiration’s ability to cool your body. Try exercising in the morning (before 10am) or evening (after 6pm) when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. During the peak hours of intense heat, consider exercising indoors, in the shade or in a pool instead. If you train indoors, make sure that the room is well-ventilated. If you can, keep the windows open.
Protect your skin
Overexposure to the sun increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Protect yourself by applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes before exercising outdoors. Wear a hat and/or wear sunglasses that block out the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Cool off in the water
Swimming is an excellent way to exercise during the summer months and keep your body temperature cool. Try different ways to workout in the water. Swim laps, tread water, or jog in the pool. Most of all, stay active and have fun! Don’t forget that you can still get sunburned in the swimming pool. For protection, make sure you wear a sunscreen that is waterproof and will not get washed off.
Stop exercising and get out of the heat at the first hint of a heat-related illness. Drink water. Put cool, wet cloths to skin. If you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, contact your doctor. If you develop a fever higher than 102 F or become faint or confused, get immediate medical help.
Ten warning signs of a heat-related illness
Nausea or vomiting
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Very hot and dry skin
Cessation of sweating, or just the opposite-excessive sweating
Every month Anna Wong, personal fitness trainer to the stars, will be writing a column for Asiance Magazine. This column is dedicated to your questions and concerns in health and fitness. Your suggestions and requests are welcome. This column is for you so your feedback is important. To contact Anna, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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