Summer is finally here and the amount of activity you can do outside is virtually endless. You can play tennis, softball, baseball, basketball, or just about any sport you like. Or, you can go for an exhilarating run or a long, relaxing walk.
But just because the weather is warm, you still have to protect your body. Heat can be just as dangerous as cold to your body. The sun and warm weather can also bring sunburns, heat exhaustion, dehydration, and heat cramps.The dangers of summer workouts
Heat exhaustion is the result of too few body fluids in your system. You can tell if you have heat exhaustion if you start sweating very heavily. Or, if you have a rapid pulse or feel like you may throw up. Exercising in high temperatures or high humidity can cause heat exhaustion.
Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms. These can follow hard workouts in intense heat. Heat cramps are caused by loss of salt and water from sweating too much.Keep your cool and stay healthy
Stopping these common problems is easy. It only takes a little preparation and knowledge about safety and exercise in the heat. LiveStrong.com offers these helpful hints:
Dehydration can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Dehydration is when your body loses too much water. Preventing dehydration is simple and takes little planning. Start by drinking eight ounces of water the night before exercising outside. Then drink 16 ounces two hours before the activity.
Sweat rates can double during hot and humid weather. So drink 4 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes during outdoor exercise.
Know the temperature. If the temperature is lower than 80 degrees, you usually can be active outside without taking extra precautions. It depends on how active you already are and how used to hot weather you are.
When the temperature gets above 80 degrees, consider the heat and the humidity. Both can put you at risk for heat-related illness. The hotter or more humid it is, the higher your risk.
Be careful when you exercise in temperatures of 80 degrees to 85 degrees. Find shade, take regular breaks, and drink plenty of fluids. Experts advise being extremely careful when exercising between about 85 degrees and 91 degrees. Conditions are considered extremely dangerous at temperatures over 91 degrees.
Dark and heavy clothing attracts heat and absorbs sweat during outdoor exercise. When socks are wet from sweat, they cause the fabric to rub against your skin. This can create blisters.
The Mayo Clinic suggests limiting clothing to a single layer of light colored lightweight material. Wear socks made of CoolMax® or SmartWool®. These fabrics allow the feet to breathe and prevent blisters.
Your face is the first place to burn. This includes your eyes, ears, and neck. So protect them. Wear a lightweight hat with ventilation. That way you can cover your face and allow your head to breathe. Wear sunglasses that protect against UV rays and block glare during exercise.
More than 1.1 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. This startling fact comes from the American Cancer Society. There is more skin cancer than prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterine, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers combined.
Protect yourself. Apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun so it can bind to the skin and prevent sunburn. Take extra steps if you plan to do water sports or if your activity will make you sweat a lot. Use a waterproof sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
Make sure to take precautions when you are active outside. In hot weather, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after activity. Water and sports drinks are best. They help to prevent dehydration and heat-related illness.
Water is all you need if you are exercising for less than an hour. For longer exercise periods, drink sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and minerals called electrolytes. These drinks may help your endurance and keep you from getting muscle cramps.
Here are other tips for exercising safely in the heat:
So stay active but stay cool this summer. It's the perfect time to get in shape or to stay in shape.