According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States from 1979-2003.
Planning ahead will keep your outdoor workouts safe and fun. Learn all about exercising in the heat with these tips…
Heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, occur when your body can’t cool itself properly. In extreme cases, overheating can hurt the brain and other vital organs. Sweat normally keeps us cool, but in some cases, sweat just can’t keep up with your body.
Plan for the Heat
Schedule your outdoor exercise around the coolest part of the day: early in the morning or after nightfall. Take advantage of shaded paths. Wear light-colored, breathable clothing. Choose cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics that allow air to circulate without chafing. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sports-suitable sunscreen.
In high heat and humid conditions, it’s easy to underestimate how much water you need to drink. The CDC directs you to drink16-32 oz. of water each hour during heavy exercise in a hot environment. If you have a hard time keeping up with that amount, try using flavored water—add a wedge of lime to your water bottle or try a sports drink. If you aren’t on a salt-restricted diet, you can allow yourself a few more salty snacks (like pretzels and chips and salsa) to replenish the sodium lost through sweat.
If you aren’t accustomed to the heat, your body may need about two weeks to adjust properly. Young children and the elderly are more likely than people in their middle years to experience heat-related illness. If you’ve been drinking a lot of alcoholic beverages recently, not drinking enough water, or are sunburned, you are also at higher risk.
Heat and Exercise
Exercising raises your body temperature, and when the air is hotter than your body, heat can’t dissipate into the air. To make the situation worse, heat gets trapped in dark-colored asphalt and the sun reflects off water, sand and glass, bombarding you with heat from every direction. This environment is ripe for heat-related illness, but with some good sense, you can still enjoy your time outside, without having to pay for it later.
Cool it Down
Before you go to bed, take a wet washcloth, wring it out so it isn’t drippy, and put it in the freezer. When you head outside the next day, take the frozen washcloth with you and drape it over the back of your neck. You can use the same tactic with a baseball cap: get it somewhat damp, wring it out and freeze it overnight before you put it on your head. Store water bottles in the freezer for 30 minutes before exercising, so that ice crystals start to form, but the water doesn’t freeze. Carrying and icy-cold water bottle in your hand is a wonderful feeling on a hot day. If you plan to be outside for several hours, bring these items in a chilled cooler.
On hot, humid days, don’t expect to set personal records. Your heart has to work a lot harder in the heat: to avoid overstressing yourself, wear a heart rate monitor and know your target heart rate for your age and fitness level. The American Council on Exercise even provides a heart rate calculator!
How do you beat the heat in the summer?
Share with the community in the comments below.
7/31/2012 at 2:00 PM