How to keep cool while exercising this summer

Summer is here. The outdoor activities are endless: gardening, a run or walk, swimming, and more. But with summer sun and heat, you have to protect yourself from the elements, and stay cool!

Follow these tips for summer safety

Did you know exercise in high temperatures or humidity can cause heat exhaustion? That’s the body’s response to excessive loss of water and salt through sweat.1 You may be at risk if you experience one or more of the following:2

  • Heavy sweating
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Upset stomach or throwing up
  • Cold, pale, and sticky or clammy skin
  • Fainting (passing out)
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Muscle cramps

Remember these symptoms. Stay active, and keep a watch on how you’re feeling in the sun, heat, and humidity. Follow these safety tips, and enjoy your favorite summertime activities.

  1. Prevent dehydration

    Dehydration is when your body loses too much water. Preventing dehydration may be as simple as drinking more water and a little preparation. Start by drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Drink extra water before you start an activity that may make you sweat. Drink water before, during, and after a workout. Bring a to-go cup or bottle of water with you when you exercise.3

    Do you feel like you sweat twice as much in hot and humid weather? Higher humidity can make it feel even hotter, since your body may not cool off as well by sweating. This could put you at a greater risk for heat-related risks.

  2. Protect your face

    This includes your eyes, ears, and neck, so make a special effort to 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. Find shaded areas for your summertime activities when you can.

  3. Use sunscreen

    The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that about 91,270 new melanomas, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, will be diagnosed in 2018. Also, the ACA estimates that about 9,320 people are expected to die of melanoma in 2018.4,5 Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.6

    Protect yourself. Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Apply it 30 minutes before going in the sun, so it can bind to the skin and help 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.7

Now that you know some dangers of exercising in the heat and humidity, here are ways to help avoid these dangers and enjoy your time outdoors this summer.

  • When it's hot or humid, get out and get moving during the cooler times of day.
  • Find shaded areas like parks with big trees, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Save the heavy-duty workout for cooler days. You’ll have less chance of getting overheated if you do lighter exercise like walking, stretching, or riding a bike.
  • Go swimming on hot days. This is a healthy family activity for summer. Bring your grandkids, and cherish days at the pool together.
  • Do light yard work or gardening. You'll burn calories while you keep the yard looking good.

When it's just too hot, head indoors

On some summer days, it may be just too hot to exercise safely outdoors. But don't stop moving; just change your plans and exercise inside. Try these ways to stay active indoors:

  • Be a mall-walker! Buy a pedometer or another device that counts your steps if that will help you stay motivated.
  • Use light weights or stretch bands at home. You can stay fit while you watch TV or listen to music. Don’t want to spend money on weights? Try lifting cans of food.
  • Buy or rent an exercise DVD, or borrow one from the library. You can stay in shape while you keep cool indoors. You might also find good exercise videos online.
  • Go dancing or take dance lessons. Or just turn on some music and dance in your home. This gets you moving. You’ll have fun and burn calories.
  • Crank up the music and do indoor housework like dusting, vacuuming, or washing the windows. This helps you stay active while you keep your home looking good.
  • Join a gym or a health club. Many cities have community centers that offer affordable fitness classes. (If you have health problems, ask your doctor before you use machines or take classes.)
  • Visit a Humana in your community center for exercise classes if you have one in your area. Talk to your doctor first if you have health problems.
  • Look for sports programs you can join in your community or at work. Many cities offer indoor sports.

Bottom line? Stay active - and keep cool this summer.

This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you.

Sources:

  1. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10169 (link opens in window)
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html (link opens in window)
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256 (link opens in window)
  4. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/about/key-statistics.html (link opens in window)
  5. https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma (link opens in window)
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/index.htm (link opens in window)
  7. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs (link opens in window)