July 1, 2023

Exercising Safely in the Heat

General Health

Heat and intense activity are a dangerous combination, so it’s important to be mindful about exercising safely in the heat this summer. Take these steps to ensure you stay safe while enjoying your outdoor activities.

Stay hydrated—Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Thirst is a sign you’re already dehydrated. Drink water throughout the day and during your workout—at least every 15 minutes. Avoid diuretics like soda and coffee, which will dehydrate you further.

Watch the weather—Look at the heat index for the day. Heat index measures temperature and humidity, so it’ll tell you how hot the day will feel. Keep in mind that the temperature measures how it will feel in the shade. Being out in the sun can feel up to 15 degrees hotter.

Plan ahead—schedule your activities for the mornings or evenings when the weather is cool. The sun is at its hottest from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, so shoot for outside those times. Read the forecast for the week ahead of time, so you know which days are safer for outdoor exercise and which ones you might want to plan for a light walk instead.

Pay attention—If you start to feel your heart pounding. Lightheaded. or out of breath, stop immediately. Find somewhere cool to rest and rehydrate. If you feel headache, fatigue, muscle cramping, dizziness, nausea, or a cold sweat, you may be experiencing heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke if you’re not careful.

Dress appropriately—Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of moisture-wicking fabric. Socks and hats come in quick-drying fabrics that will keep you cool, too. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before exercise—it needs to soak in. Getting tan or a sunburn will make your skin hotter.

Know your limits—If you are older; have poor circulation or high blood pressure; have heart, lung, or kidney disease; or are overweight, you could be at risk for more heat-related issues. Also, medications can affect how your body regulates temperature. It’s always important to share your exercise routines with your healthcare provider, who can help you make the best choices for your activities.

Summer is a brief but wonderful time to be outside, so go enjoy it! Now that you’re prepared to exercise safely in the heat, don’t miss out on sun-filled summer activities. If you need ideas, try joining an Ice Age Trail Weekly Evening or Morning Walk on Tuesdays in Whitewater, bike the Glacial River Trail which runs from Milton to Watertown, or join our Mid-Month Run/Walk and complete the Virtual 5K Challenge.

Stay cool out there!