H E A L T H A N D E X E R C I S E
6 Tips for Safe Exercise in the Summer Heat
It’s official – summer is here!
So, as we ride our bikes to work, take an afternoon jog, or approach the 18th green on a Friday afternoon, it’s important to remember that heat is likely going to begin playing a greater role in determining our endurance, our performance – and, if we’re not careful – our health.
Exercising in the summer heat can indeed be dangerous. Factor in a few guidelines and a little common sense however, and it certainly doesn’t have to be.
Natural Cooling Systems
The act of exercising in hot conditions results in an increase in body temperature which requires our body to shift more blood flow toward the skin in order to dissipate heat. Sweat aids in the cooling process by way of evaporation of fluids from the surface of the skin.
As this is occurring, our body’s demand for oxygen increases during heat-intensified exercise, increasing our heart rate and putting extra stress on our heart and lungs.
While the body’s natural cooling process works well under normal circumstances, our cooling system may find it difficult to keep up when both the temperature and humidity levels are high.
The result: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and – if left untreated – heatstroke.
So, how can we prevent the onset of these heat-related conditions without giving up our summertime exercise and recreation routines?
According to the Mayo Clinic, always keep the following precautions in mind:
Take It Slow. Don’t just jump from the air-conditioned gym into a 90-degree summer day. Give your body time to adapt. Take it easy at first, and as your body adjusts to the heat, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workout.
Drink Fluids. This holds true with any workout routine, but it’s especially important when exercising on hot days. Plan ahead by drinking an extra glass or two of water a couple of hours before your workout, and depending on your intensity level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests consuming two to four glasses of water per hour.
Dress for Summer. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes which promote sweat evaporation and cooling by letting more air pass over the body. Also, avoid wearing dark colors as they actually absorb light and heat.
Beat the Heat. If you can, plan to work out in the morning or evening – a time when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. Avoid midday workouts if you can; and if you can’t, exercise in the shade or in a pool.
Wear Sunscreen. Sure, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but also consider that sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
Stay Inside. If the day’s too hot or your body just can’t adjust to summer temperatures, then find a nice, cool, air-conditioned gym and enjoy the comfort of knowing you’re doing your body good in two respects: by exercising and by avoiding the stress of the summer heat.