Summer is here, which means that it’s hot. In some parts of the U.S., midsummer of 2021 is hotter than ever before. The risk for heat-related illness spikes during the summer, so it’s important to be extra cautious when exercising on those hot days to protect your health.
Heat exhaustion and other heat-related illness during hot weather are a real possibility. Whether you are just walking the dog or engaging in strenuous exercise, there is a greater risk to your health, so be sure to take precautions.
To urge you to stay safe and preserve your health during this hot weather, we at WildHawk Physical Therapy put together this helpful guide on how to stay active, stay cool, and stay safe when under the sun.
General Tips for Active Exercise in the Heat
Pick the Right Time
If possible, try not to do active exercise between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., as these are usually the hottest times of the day. Plan your exercise schedule and put your workouts either in the early morning or later in the evening to guard your health.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Many people underestimate how much they sweat when doing exercises, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Drink plenty of water during and after your workouts. Afterwards, you can cool down and recharge with a sports drink. Sports drinks have electrolytes like potassium and sodium that you lose when you sweat.
You’ll need to regulate your body temperature in the heat, so wear light, comfy, non-restrictive clothing that provides airflow. Pick clothing made from soft, breathable fabrics like cotton or polyester and avoid materials like nylon or wool.
Don’t Overexert Yourself
You know your body, so watch for signs of heatstroke, especially if you are not used to exercising in hot weather. Don’t be afraid to take it easy while in the heat and limit your routine a bit.
Take Frequent Breaks
It’s a wise idea to take frequent breaks when working out under the sun, even if you feel like you may not need it. Heat exhaustion might not be immediately apparent, so rest often and check your temperature periodically.
Watch Out for the Sun
You not only have to worry about the heat but also the sun’s harmful rays. It’s advisable to wear sunscreen even if you are only outside for a short time. You should also work out indoors in the living room to avoid exercising in the sun.
Fuel Up Before and After
You’ll burn more calories working out under the sun, so eat a nutritious snack about 30-40 minutes before active exercise. Foods high in protein and natural sugars such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are great pre-workout foods. After exercise, eat something high in protein and carbohydrates to refuel.
Exercise With a Friend
A workout pal is always a good idea, and that goes double when it is hot outside. Not only is having someone to help you stay motivated beneficial, but you and your workout buddy can look out for symptoms of heat stroke and keep each other safe in case of an emergency.
What Are the Signs of Heat Exhaustion?
Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive sweating
- Racing heart
- Weak pulse
- Confusion or disorientation
If you experience any of these symptoms during exercise, stop working out, drink fluids, and sit in an air-conditioned room to regulate your body’s temperature.
When Do I Need to See a Doctor for Heat-Related Illness?
If you leave it untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. During a heat stroke, your body temperature can reach over 104 degrees F (40 C), which can cause life-threatening complications.
If you still have high body temperature or if heat exhaustion symptoms do not get better after an hour or so, call 911 and get immediate attention. You may need IV fluids if you can’t get enough fluids from drinking.
If you have had a heat stroke in the past, be sure to get clearance from your doctor before engaging in any new activity. Recovering from a heat stroke can take weeks, and it will be a while before you can return to full workout capacity. Once you get cleared, you can gradually build up your stamina and heat resistance.
Stay Smart and Beat the Heat in Hot Weather
The hot weather doesn’t mean you have to lay off exercise. It just means that you need to be more careful about your health. As long as you drink fluids, keep your body temperature cool, and take frequent breaks, you can reduce the risk for heat-related illness.
Are you being held back from exercising in the heat because of aches and pains? Here at WildHawk Physical Therapy, we can get you back to the activities you love. Call us today to find out more at 828-365-8133 or check out our blog for more tips on healthy living.