I went away for the weekend for Memorial Day and was accosted by heat worthy of July upon our return. It was fitting, then, that the next subject for the Physiquality blog was how to exercise safely in the summer heat.
Full disclosure: I am not one to exercise outside. Between allergies, susceptibility to heat stroke, and a keen dislike for running, I am much happier taking a class in an air-conditioned studio than I am running several miles in my city. But my sensitivity to heat and the sun definitely increases my awareness of the importance of being safe, especially since I’ve watched my husband over-exert while playing tennis tournaments in temperatures topping 100 degrees. Here, then, are a few ways to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke while exercising outside.
Exercising safely in the heat of summer
After the storms of May, it feels like summer has appeared with a vengeance. Temperatures have soared over the last week, spiking across the Southern and Eastern states and setting records in places like Texas and Maryland.
The warm weather is an instant invitation to exercise outside, particularly if you’ve been hiding from snow and heavy rain for the last several months. However, given the high temperatures and humidity ratings that will continue through the fall, it’s best to keep a few things in mind in order to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Prepare. There are a few things that you can do before you step outside in order to prepare yourself for the heat:
- Wear appropriate clothing. There are plenty of options now that are lightweight and help you stay cool. Technology like CoolMax or DriFit from Nike absorbs your sweat and makes it easier to evaporate. Be sure to also pick lighter colors in order to minimize the heat you absorb from the sun.
- Apply sunscreen. Exercise physiologist Elizabeth Quinn points out that getting sunburned “can limit the skin’s ability to cool itself.” In addition, once you get burned, you should stay out of the sun for at least a few days in order to let your skin recuperate.