Now that the warm weather is finally here, people are going to do a lot more exercising outside. And while many workouts took place in the controlled environment of a gym over the winter, the summer heat brings a whole new set of dangers. Over 7,200 heat-related deaths occurred in the United States from 1999-2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People need to be prepared for the heat, especially when participating in a vigorous activity.
Your body is already under a lot of stress when you are working out – and heat puts extra stress on your body. Your heart rate will get faster, and your body temperature will likely be higher. Your body’s natural cooling systems will be overrun by the extreme heat, and won’t be able to get the job done with a little help. Some dangers of working out in the heat include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. There are precautions we can take to avoid these dangers, however, and still get in a great workout. Don’t skip any of these tips the next time you are working out in the heat.
1. Drink lots of fluids
One of the most important things to be done when working out in the heat is to drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. You are going to sweat a lot in the heat, and you may not feel thirsty despite the amount of fluid you are losing through sweat. One great way to check your dehydration is to look at your urine. The darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are. If you have light to clear urine, it means you have the right amount of fluids.
2. Know the symptoms
It is important to know the symptoms of heat illness so you can stop your vigorous activity before it is too late. Muscle cramps, nausea, headache, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, and profuse sweating are all signs that your body temperature is too high. You should immediately stop what you are doing and get out of the heat and drink some water. Place a wet towel or ice pack on your neck, forehead and under arms to cool your body down.
3. Amend your schedule
If it is going to be extremely hot in the afternoon, be smart and move your workout to a cooler part of the day, either the morning or evening. There is no need to risk injury when you can simply shift your workout earlier or even indoors.
4. Dress for safety
Avoid dark colors on hot days that will absorb heat. And don’t wear clothes that are too tight, as it could hinder the body’s ability to cool itself by sticking to your skin. Also wear sunscreen as a sunburn could also prevent your body from cooling itself down.
No workout is worth heat illness. Be sure to practice safety when exercising in the heat.