As summer is approaching, temperatures begin to rise. After spending months cooped up inside due to cold weather, many people will take their workouts outside in warm weather. However, as you prepare to take on increasing temperatures, here are some things you should keep in mind to prevent heat-related illnesses.
5 Precautions When Exercising In Warmer Weather
- Stay hydrated. It is essential to stay well hydrated while you’re working out, and especially so when you exercise in hot, humid weather. Be sure to drink water before you begin your workout, so that you start it off strong and hydrated, and take drink breaks during your workout. A good rule of thumb is to drink 8 ounces of fluids for every half-hour of activity you perform. For light-to-moderate activity, water will suffice. However, if you are working at a high intensity, drinking a sports drink can be beneficial as it replenishes electrolytes lost during exercise.
- Give your body time to acclimate. If you are someone who is used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, it is important to take it easy at first when you begin exercising in warmer weather. You can begin to adapt to warmer temperatures by exercising in the heat for approximately an hour each day for five to ten days. This process is called heat acclimatization. Cardiovascular changes will occur within the first three to five days, however, changes in the body’s sweating mechanisms can take up to ten days.
- Keep a close eye on the weather. Both warm weather and exercise increase your body temperature. Combining the two without caution can be dangerous. For example, even well-trained athletes need to take caution when running on a hot and humid day. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling down, but cooling down is much more difficult in humid weather because any perspiration on your skin will not evaporate as quickly as it would in non-humid conditions. Additionally, your heart rate rises as your body work hard to cool itself down. So before you lace up your running shoes and take the heat head-on, it can be very beneficial to check the weather report and try to avoid exercise during the hottest times of the day, 11 am to 3 pm.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Dark colors absorb the heat, which can make you feel as if you’re wrapped in a warm blanket. Heavyweight, tight-fitting clothing will also heat you up. Keep it loose. Keep it light. More air will be able to circulate over your skin, keeping you cool.
- Know your limits. If the temperature or humidity is high, it is important to scale back the intensity of your workout or take frequent breaks. A workout that feels easy on a cooler, temperate day, can be dangerous on a hot, humid day. Be aware of your own abilities and limitations. If you are someone who is new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in hot temperatures as your body might have a lower tolerance to the heat.
Heat-Related Illnesses To Be Aware Of
- Heat cramps. Heat cramps are the first sign that you are overdoing it and are in need of a break. If you feel your muscles spasming during your workout, start to gently stretch and massage the affected muscle while providing your body with more fluids. Do not try to start exercising for at least a few hours after the heat cramps dissipate.
- Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion causes extreme fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, breathlessness, or even fainting. The skin can sometimes be cold and clammy or on the contrary, hot and dry. You may experience low blood pressure and a weak but rapid pulse. If you suddenly experience chills or get goosebumps despite the heat, stop exercising immediately. Get into a cool environment and drink plenty of cold fluids.
- Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of heatstroke include a temperature greater than 104 degrees and feeling confused or disoriented. You will most likely notice a rapid pulse and rapid breathing, as well as flushed skin from the exertion.
Being able to exercise outside after spending months cooped up at home or performing indoor workouts at home or at the gym. Heat-related illnesses are very preventable. By taking the precautions above, your workout routine does not have to be sidelined when temperatures spike.
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