For optimal fitness year-round, it’s important not to neglect workouts during the summer. However, exercising in soaring temperatures can present the danger of heat exhaustion and heat stoke, even if you’re in great shape. You can avoid summertime medical emergencies by following a few precautions.
1. Stay Hydrated
Don’t wait until you actually feel thirsty to drink. The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking plenty of water before, during, and after an exercise session. Avoid caffeinated beverages before workouts. They act as diuretics, which is the opposite effect of what you need. In addition, LifeSafer says to avoid alcohol, as it reduces your body’s capacity to tolerate heat and is a diuretic as well.
2. Don’t Ignore Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
If you’re feeling subpar, don’t attribute it to having an off day. According to the American Heart Association, symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, heavy sweating, rapid pulse, clammy skin, fast breathing, and nausea. Should you experience any of these signs, take measures to cool down and seek medical attention immediately.
3. Exercise During the Cooler Parts of the Day
Planning your workouts early in the morning or early in the evenings is best. If you live in a warm climate, the cooler parts of the day may still be too hot to safely exercise. In such cases, opt to workout in a gym or indoor area. Humidity will increase the effects of the heat, so reduce the intensity and duration of your workout in humid weather.
4. Dress for Maximum Cooling
Wear as little clothing as possible to allow perspiration to evaporate. Leave your polyester clothing at home, because it traps heat. Instead, wear light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton.
5. Give Yourself Time to Acclimate
Ease yourself gently into summer workouts so your body can adjust to the season’s warmer temperatures. The acclimatization process, streamlining your body’s cooling and circulatory efficiency, can take 10 to 14 days. When spring’s balmy weather begins to disappear and temperatures climb, reduce the intensity and duration of your workouts. Slowly and gradually increase your exposure to the heat.
6. Don’t Go it Alone
It’s always a good idea to exercise with a buddy. Aside from being safer, having an exercise partner will make your workouts more enjoyable. Never assume you’re too fit to succumb to heat exhaustion. This dangerous condition can strike anyone at any time during the summer. If you are careful and pay attention to how your body responds to the heat, you can minimize your risk.
If your workouts have led to back, neck, or knee pain, seek the help of a care provider.