We love summer! The warm days and increased daylight give us terrific opportunities for family fun and outdoor exercise. However, as temperatures rise, taking precautions is essential to stay safe. You can exercise safely when it’s hot. Use care and common sense. And check with your primary care provider if you have medical conditions that make exercising in hot weather dangerous.
What Guidelines Should I Follow for Outdoor Exercise in Hot Weather?
- Hydrate: drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Remember, feeling thirsty is not the best way to tell you to need water. Your body doesn’t feel thirsty until you’re already dehydrated.
- The amount of water you need depends on the temperature, type of exercise, and body weight. Medical experts recommend “pre-hydrating” by drinking 16 ounces of water 1 or 2 hours before your workout and 5 ounces for every 10 minutes of activity, followed by 16 ounces post-workout.
- Avoid sodas and limit sports drinks during exercise. Water is your best bet.
- On humid days, your sweat may evaporate less quickly, preventing your body’s cooling mechanism from working effectively. When you check the weather, look for “real temperature” in humid regions like Northern Virginia– and factor humidity into your exercise plans.
- Pick your windows for outdoor exercise. Morning and evening make more sense than midday when temperatures are higher. Get out early to beat the heat, or wait until evening cools things off.
- Seek shade and change your workout location accordingly.
- Adjust your workouts to the heat, especially on the first hot days. Allow your body to acclimate and rest as needed.
- Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing allows air to cool your body and protects you from the sun. Sweat-wicking athletic wear can help your sweat cool your body. Wearing a hat can also help keep you cool.
- Wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Change up your exercise routine as needed. For example, consider a swim instead of a run on a sweltering day. Or switch to a lower-impact exercise like walking or gentle yoga.
- Take breaks or cut your workout short if needed.
- Be aware of the warning signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is the more serious of the two conditions. Heat stroke warning signs include high body temperature, confusion, skin that’s hot and dry to the touch, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, and a racing heart rate. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, a weak, rapid pulse, muscle cramps, nausea, and headache.
- If you think you or an exercise partner are experiencing heat stroke, call 911 and get medical attention right away. If you’re experiencing heat exhaustion, stop your activity and rest, seek shade or a cooler location and drink fluids.
- If you have a history of heart disease, diabetes, obesity or other chronic illness, talk with your primary care provider before you undertake an exercise program, especially when it’s hot outside. Some medications, including diuretics, can make outdoor exercise more challenging in the heat.
- If you have a chronic condition, consider moving your activity into an indoor space. Consider walking in an air-conditioned mall, going to the gym or using an indoor pool.
Unsure About Summer Exercise? Talk to Your Primary Care Provider.
Summer in the DC Metro area is a sweet time of year. We all love getting out and enjoying our region’s natural beauty. Exercise, fresh air, and sunshine have many benefits for our mental and physical health. However, when temperatures soar, it may be time to modify your exercise routine, especially if you have an underlying medical condition. At Comprehensive Primary Care, we encourage our patients to exercise regularly in whatever form works best. Talk with your provider if you have questions or concerns about physical activity in the heat. We can give advice, cautions and terrific tips for exercising safely.