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Sheltering Arms Blog

Safely Exercise in the Summer Heat


Posted on: August 5, 2019 by Jenny Lankford

By: Kerri Eggleston, PT, DPT. Cert. DN

Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but during hot summers it can pose a health risk. If you are someone who prefers to exercise outdoors, it is important to follow precautions and know your risk.

As we exercise, our muscles work and our core body temperature rises. Our circulatory system is responsible for transporting heat to the skin surface, which causes us to sweat. When it is hot and humid outside, our bodies cannot evaporate sweat as easily, trapping more heat in the body. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to avoid heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • Acclimate your body to the hot humid temperatures. It can take the human body one to two weeks to adapt to higher temperatures. If you are new to exercise or are someone who is used to exercising indoors, start with shorter bouts of exercise outdoors and take frequent rest breaks. As your body adapts, you can add length and intensity to the workouts. It is best to exercise in the morning or evening when it is cooler outside.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. When you do not drink enough fluid, your blood volume declines and in turn reduces the amount of heat that can be brought to the surface of the skin. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weighing yourself before and after exercising in the heat. For every pound (16 oz.) of bodyweight lost, drink that many ounces of water. For example, if you lose three pounds after exercising, drink 48 ounces of water. Additionally, if you exercise for 90 minutes or more, it is also important to replace electrolytes lost.
  • Dress appropriately. It is best to wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to promote better heat transfer and allow the body to sweat. Moisture-wicking fabrics are also better to keep you cooler versus cotton that absorbs moisture.
  • Know your risk. Certain health conditions or medications can affect your heat tolerance and lead to heat related illness.

If you do find yourself outside with excessive thirst, weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, or dizziness, it is essential to cool your body and hydrate as quickly as possible. If you cannot get indoors, find shade or a cool place. Heat exhaustion can progress to a heat stroke if you do not take proper precautions. If you have not recovered within 30 minutes, it is best to seek medical attention.

Did you know Sheltering Arms offers a full array of fitness and wellness services for both patients and non-patients? From land- and aquatic-based fitness classes to personal training, we can help you establish an exercise routine that’s right for you. Click here to learn more about all of the fitness and wellness services available at Sheltering Arms.