Exercising in the heat of summer

I live in Vegas and it’s probably no big surprise to people that it is getting into the 100’s already.  It’s a bit early in the year, but lets face it the heat was coming no matter when the timing.  This is my 3rd summer here and it’s a HUGE change from the humidity that I grew up with.  I had trouble breathing to do much walking much less run when I first got here.  Top that with not being used to how quickly you get dehydrated and I was headed down a dangerous road at first.  I did not educate myself on the differences of how to work out here versus what I grew up with.  Back in the Midwest you sweat and it sticks to you it doesn’t evaporate so you have this constant reminder to hydrate. Here you sweat and poof it’s gone, it’s not like living in a sauna.  This year I am also doing my training for the half marathon so it involves going outside to run on occasion and of course running at the gym when I can.  So I am doing some research to make sure that I am prepared for what lies ahead.  Heat related illnesses are no joke and MUST be taken seriously so that you can, well…stay ALIVESo here are a few tips collected from a few websites for you to look over.  I will put links to a few pages at the bottom so you can read further if you want.  Besides the internet you should of course talk to your doctor before starting a program and it wouldn’t hurt to consult a certified trainer.

  1. STAY HYDRATED!!!! This should be the number one thing you look at exercise or not.  Active.com shares that you should drink a few glasses before you go out, take a bottle when you go out, drink every 15 minutes, and drink more when you get back.  A very good idea IMHO, having done a few runs outside already I can tell you I was so sweaty and thirsty I was glad to have the water.
  2. Avoid the midday sun- this should be a no brainer, it is not good to go out once it starts to get close to noon and not again until it starts to cool.  Your local weather stations can help you figure out when the heat of the day is.  This is when it’s a good time to be a morning runner…for instance tomorrow on a normal sleep in day I will be *HUGE SIGH* getting up around 6 am to run so I avoid excessive heat.
  3. Wear sunscreen- you do not want to get a sunburn and go through that pain.  A severe burn can do some really bad damage to the underneath layers of your skin.  Also it is one of the best protections if you are going to be out, from skin cancer.  I’ve lost a friend way to young to this, it is not something to play with.
  4. Slow down- according to WebMd this is not the time to try and set personal records once it starts hitting the 90’s.  They interviewed Suzanne Girard Eberle, author and sports dietitian in Portland, Oregon who shared this.  She pointed out on humid days in particular (not my problem here) it could really slow you down.
  5. Wear light colored and breathable clothing- there are a ton of options out there now for types of fabric that let your skin breathe and wick the sweat away.  Now if only they can make undergarments that do that, I will be impressed (my idea don’t steal it, ha!).
  6. Plan the route out- my addition here you might share that route with some people who can come and find you if needed, there is some general safety to consider there.  
  7. Lay off the caffeine/alcohol/salty/high sodium stuff the night before and day of- there is no need to dehydrate yourself before you try to go out and exercise.
  8. Check the weather- take a look the day before they can give you a heads up on excessive warnings, in which case you need to modify your plans.
  9. Listen to your body- use some self awareness and if you go out and your body is taking it hard stop, rest, hydrate and go home.  It’s important to know the signs of heat related illness such as nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, and confusion. The Mayo Clinic has a good list of the symptoms in their article.
  10. Have a back up plan- seriously don’t make your workout dependent on working out outside, have some other options if it is that important to workout.

I hope this helps you to get a plan together to workout safely in the summer.  You could be like my brother and do a lot of trail running which provides shade, but even doing that make sure you are hydrated.  Shade…I seem to remember what that is like…Anyway I hope you do get out and have some fun in the sun, just be safe.

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