Exercising in the Summer Heat
As we are well aware, summer is here and the heat is here to stay. This does not mean that your exercising or recreational activities have to take a backseat. With the heat and humidity that we often face in our area, it is important to equip yourself with ways to keep cool and avoid heat related illnesses. Warning signs that your body temperature is too high and needs attention include muscle cramping, nausea, shakiness or weakness, dizziness, or confusion. Here are a few simple ways to avoid heat related injury or illness:
- Pay attention to the weather forecast and heat advisories. Plan to exercise early in the morning or later in the evening if the daytime temperature is forecasted to be high.
- Drink plenty of fluids. This includes days prior to and following your outdoor activity. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other products that will decrease your hydration level. If you will be exercising for longer than one hour, it is wise to drink water throughout the activity, and you may consider a sports drink following the activity to restore electrolyte levels. If you wait until you are thirsty, you have waited too long to replenish fluids.
- Dress for the heat. Wear light colored and light weight clothing that will dry quickly. Looser fitting clothing allows the sweat to evaporate and keep your body cooler. Use sunscreen and wear a hat if appropriate to avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Be flexible. If the weather is not conducive for your planned exercise, go to the gym or an indoor facility to work out. Plan for early morning or evening activities to avoid daytime high temperatures.
Submitted by Caitlin Niemeier, MPT Excel Sports and Physical Therapy – North O’Fallon