Exercise safely in the summer heat

Summer’s warm weather can mean more opportunity for outdoor exercise, but it can also result in injuries from pushing too hard or getting too hot.

“To enjoy your summertime fitness, remember to stretch the areas of your body you will use and hydrate 24 hours before, during and after your activities, especially if it’s longer than one hour – for example, swimming at the lake, water park or pool, or during outdoor sports and ball tournaments,” said Dr. Curtis Wolfe, family medicine physician at Wamego Family Clinic.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when exercising in the summer heat:

  • Monitor the weather forecast. Know how hot it is likely to be during your workout, prepare accordingly and dress appropriately.
  • Take time to get used to the temperature. This is especially critical if you are used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather. It can take a week or two to adapt to the heat, so don’t push too hard at first.
  • Be realistic about your fitness level. If you’re relatively new to exercise, be even more careful when exercising in the heat. Start slowly and take breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is one of the most significant factors in heat-related illnesses. Many people will wait until they feel thirsty to drink water, but you should hydrate before feeling thirsty. Sports drinks are not typically needed unless you are performing an intense exercise, and you should watch out for excess sugar content in them.
  • Exercise during non-peak hours. Workout during hours that are cooler, like the morning or evening, and exercise in shaded areas, if possible.
  • Wear sunscreen. Skin cancer can affect anyone and applying sunscreen has been proven to reduce one’s risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Pay attention to your body for warning signs of heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness can include muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, confusion, and visual problems. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising, get to a cooler setting, and hydrate to help bring down your body temperature.