If you’re going to exercise outdoors this summer, be vigilant about not overheating
Summer can be a great time to get serious about your workout routine, with the long daylight hours and inspiring outdoor events. However, this hottest season of the year can pose some serious health issues, especially overheating—which can quickly turn into heat exhaustion and the life-threatening heatstroke.
First and foremost, use common sense and listen to your body. Most of us are not as good at this as we should be. If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or shaky, stop exercising immediately and rest. Here are some other tips to help you make the most of your summer shape-up:
Avoid the heat of the day
By the middle of the day, the sun has had time to generate heat in the air as well as the pavement. Add humidity and you’ve got a soupy mix of damp hot air that can zap even the fittest runners of energy. Don’t plan your workouts for when the sun is directly overhead, when it’s more difficult to find shady routes and avoid the impact of its searing rays. Instead, try heading out early, while the dew from the previous night is still hanging in the air. Just before the sun goes down can also be a good time to head out for that walk or jog.
Drink water early and often
As you sweat, your body loses fluids and you can become dehydrated. Dehydration is dangerous because it prevents your body from regulating temperature appropriately, which is when you can begin to overheat. Your body has an internal cooling system, but it works if you take the time to give your body what it needs. You should be sipping water intermittently throughout the day in the heat regardless of exercise, but approximately 30 minutes before you begin your workout, begin drinking water at a moderate rate. This ensures that you’re starting from a “full tank” hydration-wise. It also gives your stomach a chance to digest the liquid before you start any high-impact exercise. Keep that bottle by your side and keep taking sips throughout your workout.
Consider indoor workouts
Explore the various options in your neighborhood or close to your job for working out indoors. Gyms provide equipment, flooring and AC! On the hottest days, even walking a couple of laps around a local mall can do the trick. Your health and safety should always come first.
Regulate your exertion as needed
Consider developing a routine that prepares your body both for exercise and for rest. Don’t get caught up in matching the level of intensity you were able to achieve on some other (and possibly much cooler) day. Our bodies respond to many factors, and you should regulate your level of exertion based on many factors: how well rested you are, how hydrated you are, what you ate yesterday/today—and especially how hot it is. Take time to cool down after a workout before you run to the next obligation.
We hope you’ll take this advice to heart as you think about how to maintain your fitness routine even during the “dog days of summer.” Raise your consciousness about exercising in the heat, and your body will benefit from the extra care. It’s one of the secrets to sustaining a fitness routine over the long haul—and gaining all the benefits, while minimizing the liabilities.
This article is part of the Harris Casel Institute’s weekly blog. We conveniently offer many career training programs at our campus in Melbourne, FL. Contact us online for more info!