Most of us know the importance of Movement in our everyday lives. With the weather warming up over the summer months, we collectively become more at risk for heat-related illnesses. This could be anything from cramps, to heatstroke or heat exhaustion. Although the heat does put us at more risk, this is not to say we should avoid the outdoors when the weather is warm. Instead, we should take the necessary precautions when exercising in warm temperatures.
The first precaution we can take is to keep tabs on the weather for that day and plan our outdoor activities or workout during a time of the day where the warmth and heat of the day may be less intense. You also will want to avoid doing your outdoor work out when the weather is humid.
When exercising is combined with warm weather, our body’s core temperature increases. In response to the body’s temperature rising, the body will then produce sweat to try to cool itself down. When the weather is humid, it’s increasingly difficult for the perspiration to evaporate off the skin as quickly as it should. Because of this, the body’s heart rate will rise trying to work harder to cool off. If this is the case, or the heat is too overwhelming that day, it is suggested to move your workout routine to something indoors to avoid any heat-related illnesses.
If you choose to work outdoors in the heat, it is encouraged to start off short and slow and take many breaks. Gradually increasing your workouts intensity over a week or so will help your body adjust and get acclimated to working out in extreme temperatures. Along with this, dressing appropriately is another major factor.
Heavy, dark colored clothing is going to be your worst enemy when working out in high heat. You’ll want to stick to loose fitting, sweat-wicking, light-colored clothing. Avoid wearing accessories such as pads or helmets — if this is necessary for your workout, be mindful that these accessories can cause a raise in your body temperature, so you may want to shorten your workout to accommodate.
Along with this, accessories like UV blocking sunglasses and putting on sunscreen beforehand will help make being outdoors more enjoyable and safe. Most people know that sunburns can increase risk of skin cancer, but most don’t know that sunburns also decrease your body’s ability to cool down as quickly as it should. Sunscreen will help to avoid sunburning while working out outdoors.
Additionally, when working out at any time, but especially outdoors in the heat, water is going to be your best friend. Hydrate often, rehydrate again, and keep hydrating! Water will not only help keep you hydrated, but will also help your body to produce sweat and cool down more easily.
Along with staying informed on tips and tricks that can help us to more effectively workout in the heat, we should also be informed on some warning signs to look for in common heat-related illnesses such as Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke in the event that they do occur. The following are symptoms listed from the Mayo Clinic:
- Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion: Faintness, Dizziness, Fatigue, Weak and rapid pulse, low blood pressure upon standing, muscle cramps, nausea, headache.
- Symptoms of Heat Stroke: confusion, seizures, unconsciousness, body temperature above 105 (fahrenheit), rapid and weak pulse, no sweating (dry, hot skin).
It’s recommended to use the “buddy system”; working out with a friend or family member to help keep an eye on each other to be able to identify and help if one or more of you start experiencing any kind of symptoms. When the heat index is high, we are all at risk. Being aware of these risk factors helps us to regain control of our workouts and allows us to prepare properly beforehand so that we can seize the day!
To your health and wellness,
Executive Assistant, Stephanie Pete
EPIC Functional Medicine