Avoid Heat Illness: Stay Cool During Exercise

heat-illness-exercise-waterHere in Arizona it gets HOT; But, just because it gets dangerously hot, doesn’t mean people here lie inactive around the house during the summer months. In the midst of summer, it’s already 85F by 7AM, and by 10AM, temps are touching the 100s. To exercise in this 4 month oven, Arizonans make habit of a few simple, and easily adaptable practices. We can ALL learn something from how they deal with the heat.  Here are five tips for dealing with the heat, and avoiding heat illness regardless of where you live.

1. Hydrate

If you’re exercising in the heat, it is essential you hydrate accordingly! Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious conditions that can quickly prove fatal if left unchecked. Drink 2-3 glasses of liquid, preferably water, during the day, and again 2 hours before heading outside. Make sure you bring along fluids, and drink at least half a container every 15-20 minutes. Weigh yourself before and after exercise, and take note of how much weight you’ve lost through sweat. Drink at least two to three glasses of liquid for every pound of weight lost during exercise. If you’re out there for longer than an hour, bring a sports drink that has electrolytes instead of plain water. This helps replace some of the salt and other electrolytes you lose through sweat.

2. Dress appropriately

When headed out into the heat, wear fabric that breathes easily, and avoid darker colors. Darker colors absorb heat, and material such as cotton doesn’t allow sweat to evaporate readily. This combination creates a much hotter environment, and can cause serious complications if left unchecked. Wear light colored clothing that breathes easily. Wearing a hat and sunglasses are also very beneficial.

3. Don’t forget your sunblock

Skin cancer is a silent killer and is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Use sunblock to  keep harmful UV rays off of your skin when training outside.  Apply sunblock 15-30 minutes before exposure so it absorbs into the skin. If you’re out for extended periods of time, re-apply ever two hours.

4. Carry your phone or workout with a partner

With the heat, you should always err on the side of safety. Nothing is worse than having an accident happen while out in the heat. Whether it is running out of water, energy, getting injured, coming down with heat exhaustion, etc. Carry your phone with you if you head out by yourself, or workout with a partner.

5. Pick the right time of day

The harshest time of day to workout is between the hours of 11am and 6pm. Around noon is when the sun is at its highest point providing maximal exposure. During this time, the earth’s surface starts to heat up and reaches its peak in the late afternoon.  Schedule your workouts for the morning (before 11am) or early evening (after 6pm).

Heat Illness

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious conditions that can quickly become fatal when not recognized and treated properly. These, and other heat illnesses deserve a separate article. So, it’s something we’ll come back to before next spring. In the mean time, keep hydrated, keep cool, keep fit.