Everyone looks forward to summer time. Warm weather, sunshine, no school, vacations, and fun outdoor activities. There is nothing quite like a beautiful summer day, but the season can bring unbearably warm temperatures that can bring health dangers to those that exercise and play outdoors in the summer months. We know how good it is to get outside and get fresh air and we all need it 100%. We just want to offer some ideas and tips so you can continue your outdoor workouts and playtime without putting yourself or your family at risk of heat related medical conditions. Let’s dive into how we can spend our time outdoors in a safe, healthy fashion.
Best Practices For Safe Summer Exercise
Summer is a great time to be outside enjoying nature and sunny skies and keeping your workouts going strong. Whether you walk, run, bike, hike, swim or play a sport, enjoy your favorite outdoor activity but keep in mind there are some things to consider about being outdoors when the temperatures rise.
- It takes your body anywhere from one to two weeks to adapt to the heat. If you have been exercising indoors or in a cooler climate then switch to one with hot weather, give your body that time to acclimate to the higher temperatures
- Stay informed with your local weather forecasts. Know what the temperature and humidity level will be and if there has been a heat alert posted for your area
- Do your outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the day, after the sun has gone down, when temperatures are cooler and easier on your body
- Make a constant effort to drink lots of water, keeping yourself well hydrated. Dehydration can happen easily if you aren't drinking enough water and dehydration leads to heat related medical conditions
- Dress with lightweight, light colored clothing. Dark colors attract sunlight and tight fitting clothes will not allow air close to your skin to help cool you off. Wearing a hat shades your eyes and keeps direct sunlight off of your scalp
- Be aware of your personal level of fitness. If you are just starting out, don’t push yourself in the heat of the day, and take lots of breaks until your body gets accustomed to the exercise and the warm temperatures
- ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN. The body cannot help cool itself down if you are sunburned
- Certain medical conditions or those taking certain medications shouldn’t be out exerting themselves in hot temperatures. Discuss exercise options with your doctor before you start any exercise program
- If you are concerned about being out in the heat and the effects it could have on your body, find indoor ways to exercise: home workouts and equipment, join a gym, walk laps inside the mall or large buildings that are air conditioned
- Consider swimming as an exercise option
- Eating regular, healthy meals and snacks throughout the day will help fuel and prepare your body for exercising in warmer weather
- Alcohol and caffeine rob the body of hydration. Limit the amount of these before and after a workout
Medical Conditions Caused By Extreme Heat
We’ve covered what to do to help you avoid medical emergencies due to hot temperatures. What happens if you don’t follow the advice we just covered or those who don’t know all those helpful suggestions? It can turn very serious, very quickly.
- Heat cramps - Muscle cramps that are also known as exercise related cramps. Muscle contractions that can be painful, come as a result of exercise and hot conditions. The muscles affected will sometimes feel firm to the touch.
- Heat syncope - Also known as heat and exercise related collapse. This occurs as a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness, then the person faints or collapses. Often a result of high temperatures and the person being on their feet or active for long periods of time, or standing up quickly in hot weather. Exercise related collapse is dizzy and lightheaded, followed by immediate fainting after exercising in extreme heat
- Heat exhaustion - Heat exhaustion has numerous symptoms like weakness, vomiting, nausea, sweating, headache, fainting, and cold clammy skin, and body temperature can reach as high as 104. If heat exhaustion goes without being treated it can lead to heat stroke
- Heat stroke - Heat stroke is serious, it can be life threatening, and its sufferers usually have a high body temperature, as high as 104 in some instances. It has many symptoms, some of which include: headache, heart rhythm trouble, irritability, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, and problems with vision. Someone with signs of heat stroke MUST receive medical attention IMMEDIATELY because it can cause organ failure, brain damage and death. It cannot be stressed enough how serious this condition is and how everyone must do what they can to prevent coming down with heat stroke
Stay Fit But Stay Safe
We hope you will enjoy every single second of this summer with family and friends, including lots of fun activities. Now that you know how to handle the heat and what to look out for, go take on this summer and make it one to remember. Safe fun keeps you healthy, happy, and leads to a bright future!
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