Admit it. It’s hot and sticky outside, and you’re just begging for an excuse to skip the workout and hit the beach, but we all know that if we want to be healthy and keep our bodies looking the way we want them to, working out has to be part of our DAILY lifestyle, no matter what the weather’s like.
Working out in high temperatures can actually be quite dangerous. Here are some facts and tips to keep you working out, in a safe and healthy way.
When planning on working out outdoors on a hot day, always check with your local weather authority and get the current heat index (combined air temperature and relative humidity):
- Under 80 F (27 C). Most can usually be active outside without taking extra precautions. If you are overweight, have health problems, take medication, or drink alcohol, you may be at a higher risk for heat-related illness and should be more cautious. Children and the elderly are also at higher risk.
- 80 F (27 C) to 85 F (29 C). Find shade, take regular breaks, and drink plenty of fluids.
- 85 F (29 C) and 91 F (32.8 C). Be very careful. Stay hydrated.
- +91 F (32.8 C) Conditions are considered extremely dangerous.
- WHEN IT’S HUMID: You should be careful even at lower temperatures. Humidity prevents sweat from evaporating from the skin at a quick enough rate, which can cause an increase in body temperature. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are more likely to occur when humidity is above 70%, and temperature is above 70 degrees.
Heat-Related Illnesses & Treatments
Signs and symptoms to watch out for include: muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness, and confusion.
If you develop any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat and sun. If possible, have someone stay with you who can keep an eye on your condition. Drink fluids — water or a sports drink.
Heat Cramps – Painful muscle contractions mainly affecting the calves, quads and abdominals. The area may feel firm to the touch. Stretching may be helpful as treatment. Getting enough potassium and salt will help prevent cramps.
Hyperthermia – Occurs with excessive heat exposure and dehydration when the body absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. Get out of the heat immediately and replenish with fluids. If your body temperature does not stabilize, seek medical attention. Hyperthermia can lead to heat stroke. If you’re caring for someone with hyperthermia and they lose consciousness, do not attempt to give them anything by mouth.
Heat Exhaustion – Your body temperature can stay normal or rise as high as 104 F (40 C). You may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness and cold, clammy skin. Drink water, fan your body or wet it down with cool water. If you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, contact your doctor. Heat exhaustion can be a precursor to heat stroke if left untreated.
Heat Stroke – Heart rate and temperature will rise higher than 104 F (40 C). Skin will get hot and red, and you will stop sweating; the body stops itself from sweating in attempt to cool itself. Confusion,irritability, and loss of consciousness are possible. Seek immediate medical attention. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Once you’ve had heat stroke, you are at a higher risk of having heat related illness again. Consult a doctor before returning to exercise.
Key Things to Remember When Working Out in Hot Weather
- Exercise in the early morning or evening (before 10 am or after 6 pm) to avoid the midday sun. Stay in the shade when possible.
- Decrease the duration and intensity of your workout. Take breaks. With time, your body will gradually acclimate itself. As your body adapts, you can gradually increase the length and intensity of your workout.
- Stay Hydrated: Before Exercise: Drink 8 ounces of water 30 minutes prior to workout. During Exercise: Drink 3 – 6 ounces of water every 15 minutes. After Exercise: Drink 8 ounces of water in the 30 minutes following.
- If you are going to be working out for longer than an hour or sweating profusely, drink sports drinks as oppose to water so that you are replacing lost electrolytes and sodium, as well as lost fluid.
- Dress in pale colors to reflect light and wear a light colored big-brimmed hat to protect your head from the sun. Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing that will allow for sweat evaporation. Cotton is preferred.
- Try staying cool by soaking a hat or bandanna in water, then put it in the freezer to wear while exercising (you can wear the bandanna on your head or around your neck).
- If you have long hair, put it up. Keep face and neck clear.
- Switch your normal cardio workout to a pool workout. See my previous article: “Pool Workout & Injury Treatment”
- Wear a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes.
- Avoid alcohol for at least 24hrs prior to workout.
- Wear sunscreen. Sunburn decreases your ability to cool yourself and causes fluid loss.