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Exercising Safely This Summer

With so many outdoor events usually programmed around this time of the year, summer can be the best time to be out with friends and loved ones. It can also be a great opportunity to go to the beach, park, and even hiking trails. With such nice weather, you might even be motivated to exercise outside. But exercising out in the sun can also be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary precautions. 

When you exercise, your heart pumps blood to the active muscles while also pumping blood to your skin to dissipate heat and keep you cool. It’s important to note that your cardiovascular system gets stressed out even more when these two functions occur in hot weather. If your body continues to work hard under these conditions you will run the risk of becoming dehydrated and suffering life-threatening heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Please be aware that the same workout routine you do in much cooler temperatures will be a lot harder in the summer because hot weather demands way more from your body.

Therefore, consider the following in order to get the most out of this summer without getting seriously ill:

1. Dress Appropriately

Wear sweat-wicking clothing when you’re working out in the sun. If you can, also consider loose fitting clothing which helps sweat evaporate in order to keep you cooler. It’s very important to wear a helmet (and protective padding if possible) if you’re riding a bicycle; but just be mindful that safety gear traps in heat and can elevate your body temperature. The solution to this is to reduce the duration you’re out cycling under the sun or reduce the intensity of the sport you’re practicing.

2. Stay Hydrated

It’s important to drink plenty of water. You can also ensure that your body is taking in a consistent amount of water by eating water-rich foods like broccoli, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit… just to name a few.

3. Limit Midday Exercise

It’s best to exercise in the mornings or evenings when the temperature is cooler. The hours between 12:00pm and 3:00pm are the hottest in the day, so avoid those.

4. Know the Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

If you start feeling really fatigued, like you’re losing your breath, and quite dizzy, stop exercising immediately as this can be a clear sign of heat exhaustion. Once it starts getting bad, you’ll begin to feel sudden chills and goosebumps – even when it’s really hot out; if this happens, get into some place cool and drink lots of cool fluids. Muscle cramps and headaches are also signs of heat exhaustion. When it gets worse, people suffering from a heat stroke will experience skin that is hot but dry (because they are unable to sweat anymore). They will also appear confused and will have a rapid, but weak pulse. Most notably, their body temperature will be over 105°F.

Please be safe this summer and don’t forget to wear sunscreen.