How to Keep Your Cool in the Summer Heat

beat the heatPoolside lounging, long bike rides and sunny picnics are the joys of summer. Unfortunately, spending so many hours outside basking in the summer sun may put an individual at risk for heat exhaustion, a serious condition with short and long-term side effects that no one wants to deal with during sunshine-filled vacation months. It’s easy to be susceptible to it, too. So how do you identify heat exhaustion and stay safe while exercising outdoors (or even when spending extra time by the pool)? Let’s find out…

According to WebMD, “heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures, and it often is accompanied by dehydration.” The symptoms of heat exhaustion may include dizziness, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat and more. I think these symptoms would hamper my ability to feel good! Don’t you?

Outside of causing immediate discomfort, heat exhaustion may impact you for days or even weeks following the incident. In fact, people may be more sensitive to heat, light and smells after suffering from heat exhaustion, putting one at risk for a repeat episode OR a more serious condition: heat stroke! The later can actually cause organ and brain damage and even death! Things just got serious, people!

outdoor exercise

Obviously most fit people really love their warm weather workouts – not to mention a good sweat – so how does one stay safe and prevent this condition? Ahhh, there are many ways. Let’s unveil a few simple strategies:

  • Wear lightweight clothing that whisks sweat away from the skin so your body can cool itself down.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after an outdoor workout. Ever seen a water bottle carrier that wraps around your waist or a water carrying backpack? Drop the ego, strap on the H20!
  • Remove restrictive clothing that may be causing you to overheat. Note: This is NOT an excuse to be an exhibitionist…unless in DIRE emergency…
  • Place cool towels or ice near your pulse points to quickly cool your core temperature (side of neck, inside of wrists, crease of elbows, behind the knees, top of the inner thighs) or take a cool bath.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors on days that are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit since the risk of heat exhaustion rises above this temperature.
  • Check the heat index before choosing the trail or park over the gym. According to WebMD, a relative humidity of 60% or more prevents sweat from evaporating off your skin, leaving your body feeling like you neglected to leave the steam room within the advised time limit.
  • Be wary of exercising alone or in a remote outdoor environment since you will not be able to get help as quickly, if you need it. Better yet, get a workout buddy!
  • Avoid mid-summer workouts in urban areas that are full of concrete and asphalt since these materials trap heat and raise the temperature.
  • Schedule your workout for the early morning when the temperature is likely to be at its lowest.

hydrateNo one wants to spend summer tucked away in a dark room or gloomy feeling gym, and you don’t have to! Just stick to the simple strategies above and have the courage to cut a workout short if you feel that you’re in danger. Finish up indoors with core exercises – can never get enough of them!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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References:

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/heat_exhaustion/page5_em.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/4133-need-heat-exhaustion/

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/heat-exhaustion?page=1

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