Summer in Florida means higher temperatures and even higher humidity. While many people want to get outdoors and stay active despite the heat, there are health risks – such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke – if proper precautions are not taken. So, what can you do to stay cool when exercising outside in hot weather?
First, it’s important to understand how heat can affect the body. Under normal circumstances, the body is equipped to adjust to the heat and cool itself. However, exercising or playing sports in hot weather can make the body work harder to lower its core temperature. Additionally, dehydration or prolonged exposure to heat can further strain the body’s natural cooling systems, or even cause them to fail. Physical activity under these conditions can greatly increase the risk of overheating or a serious heat-related illness.
To keep yourself safe while outside in the heat, consider these tips:
- Check the weather. Before you decide to engage in outdoor physical activity, check the forecast. If there’s high heat and humidity, consider planning your activity for another day or time.
- Avoid midday sun. The hottest time of day is between 11am to 3pm. Beat the heat by starting your exercise early in the morning or later in the evening.
- Wear the right clothing. To stay cooler, avoid wearing dark colors and choose breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics. Also, don’t forget your sunglasses and hat.
- Stay hydrated. Prevent becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after your physical activity – don’t wait until you are thirsty. Recommended fluids include water or sports drinks; avoid alcohol.
- Wear sunscreen. Not only is a sunburn uncomfortable, it reduces your body’s ability to cool itself. Before engaging in outdoor exercise, apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and make sure to reapply every two hours.
- Know your fitness limits. If you’re in poor health, taking certain medications or not used to exercising regularly in higher temperatures, you are at more risk of overheating or a heat-related illness. If you do choose to exercise in hot weather, keep your activity low-key, stay hydrated, limit your sun exposure and take frequent breaks. And, consult your physician about additional precautions you can take.
By following these basic tips, you can help prevent heat-related illnesses and stay safe. However, pay attention to any warning signs or symptoms such as: muscle cramps, nausea, fatigue, low blood pressure, dizziness, or increased heart rate. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop your activity, get out of the heat immediately and get hydrated right away. If the symptoms worsen, or you don’t feel better after 20 minutes, seek medical attention.
For more information or to learn about other ways to prevent injury or illness while exercising, the team of specialists at Coastal Orthopedics is here to help. Call us today at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment online.