Spring and summer months are the perfect time to take your workout outdoors. Its a great time to start engaging in more physical activity through walking, jogging, biking, or exercise routines to improve fitness, overall health, and losing weight. But exercising outdoors can have its caveats. Distances seem longer and hills appear steeper. In the heat, a simple workout can be a grueling test of endurance with potentially fatal consequences.
As the days get warmer, though, you should be mindful that exercising in hotter temperatures can put you at risk of certain heat related illness such as heat stroke or exhaustion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat stroke kills approximately 300 people each year.
Heat related illness is a result of the body’s inability to sustain its temperature regulation. This can occur as a result of several factors such as dehydration and/or not being acclimated to the conditions. However, by planning for the warmer conditions, you can prevent heat illness.
Top 5 tips for staying safe outdoors this summer.
Tip 1: Stay hydrated. The key is hydration before and throughout exercise. You can easily measure how much water is ideal, by weighing yourself before and after your workout. The difference will tell you how much sweat was lost and how much fluid needs to be replenished.
Tip 2: Exercise early in the morning or late in the day. To avoid intense heat, plan your runs during either of these two windows. The best method for improving heat tolerance and decreasing the risk of heat illness is to gradually acclimate yourself to exercising in hot environments, a process that takes 7 to 14 days. Don’t go out and run for an hour in 100-degree weather right at the onset. Give your body a chance to acclimate and work up to exercising in those conditions.
Tip 3: Dress comfortably. Wear light, loose-fitting clothes. Synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and Lycra that absorb sweat are best for exercising in the heat.
Tip 4: Be aware of your prescriptions. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can increase the chance of heat-related illness by promoting heat storage or impairing sweat glands. Anti psychotic medications, antihistamines, antidepressants, and some muscle relaxants are just a few that generally interfere with sweating. Individuals taking these medications should be especially wary and monitor their body temperature closely when exercising in the heat.
Tip 5: Be safe, not sorry. Every individual’s susceptibility to heat is different. There are people who lose a lot of electrolytes through their sweat, and some who don’t lose as much. Most of us don’t know which group we are in. That’s why it’s so crucial to pay attention to your body and take extra precautions in the heat.