Safety Tips for Exercising in the Heat2 min read
Exercising in the beautiful outdoors can be a major perk of traveling to a warm, tropical location. Not only does the weather make it more enjoyable to work out, but it also provides a unique opportunity to further explore a new destination from a local’s perspective.
However, if you’re going for a run or bike ride through the streets when it’s unbearably hot outside, it’s important to make sure that you’re staying safe as well. When you expose yourself to the heat and sun for too long, you put yourself at risk for dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke—all of which can lead to serious health issues and possibly even death.
As a result, it’s important that you understand the signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. Additionally, be sure to take these safety precautions to heart and practice them whenever you exercise outdoors in the heat:
- Exercise early or at night: Avoid exercising between ten a.m. and three p.m., typically the hottest time of the day. The earlier in the day you exercise, the better—it will generally be cooler in the morning.
- Wear loose, light colored clothing: Choose cotton materials or those specifically designed for physical activity since they help with the evaporation of sweat. Additionally, light clothing will help reflect the heat.
- Apply sunscreen: Avoid sunburn and wear sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30. Remember, the sun can still damage your skin even when it’s cloudy.
- Stay well hydrated: Your body cools itself off by sweating, but it can’t do this when you’re not properly hydrated. As a result, the body begins to store heat inside, causing heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. To prevent this, drink 20 ounces of water two hours before you exercise, eight ounces shortly before you go outside, and bring a water bottle with you. Try to drink frequently throughout your workout (every 15 to 20 minutes) and drink plenty of water when you’re done.
- Replenish electrolyte and salt intake: In addition to losing water, your body also loses electrolytes and salt, which are essential for keeping your body functioning properly. Without them, you can experience hyponatremia, which causes confusion, nausea, muscle cramps, seizures, or even death. Keep your electrolyte and sodium levels balanced by taking salt capsules or eating healthy salty snacks.
- Listen to your body: If you feel dizzy, faint, or nauseous, stop immediately.
- Slow down: If the temperature is above 90, consider going at a slower pace than you normally would.
- Look for shade: If available, consider running or biking in shaded areas to keep you out of direct sunlight.
Photo from FamilyWize.