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Even though working out in the heat can be done, the risks of being active outdoors during the hot spring and summer months can be serious if not done properly. The heat, coupled with the humidity, makes keeping cool even more challenging, as your body cannot properly cool down due to the moisture in the air. This ultimately makes it much harder for your body to cool itself down. So, what can you do? Should you give up being active outdoors altogether during hot weather? NO! You can still have fun in the sun while being smart and safe! Follow the below tips to keep active in warm weather the SAFE way!

Tips to Keep in Mind When Exercising in Warm Weather

  1. Timing is key: Try to avoid exercising outside in the early afternoon. It’s usually hottest between noon and 3 p.m.

  2. Hydrate: Drink water before, during and after physical activity, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Bring a bottle of water with you, or plan water stops along your route.

  3. Dress for success: Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes. Moisture-wicking fabric can also be a big help. Protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses, a hat or visor and plenty of sweat-resistant sunscreen.

  4. Listen to your body: Take frequent breaks in the shade, and drink water before you’re thirsty. Allow yourself time to adapt to the heat -- some experts say that this can take about 4-14 days. You may not be able to work out as long or as hard as usual when it’s very hot.

  5. Doctor’s orders: Check with your primary care provider before starting an exercise routine or moving your workout outdoors if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, other chronic disease or any medical concerns. Certain medications like beta blockers, ace receptor blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics can exaggerate the body’s response to heat.

  6. Buddy up: If you can, work out with a partner for safety so you can keep an eye on each other. 

Refuel and Keep Cool
Try light, healthy pre- and post-workout snacks that can also help you stay cool, such as:

  • Chilled or frozen fruit

  • Homemade popsicles made from 100 percent fruit juice

  • Fruit smoothies

  • Cold salads loaded with vegetables, beans, legumes and heart-healthy fish like albacore tuna or salmon

  • Crisp, chilled raw veggies like cucumber, carrot or celery with a light, cool dip

  • Cold sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice or slices of citrus or cucumber

Beat the Heat.
If you find you just can’t tolerate the heat, don’t skip out on your workout or physical activity time!

  • Find indoor locations where you can be active, such as a shopping mall, gym or community recreation center.

  • Discover activities you can do in your home or at work.

  • Adjust your workout schedule to early morning or late evening when it’s cooler outside.

Know the Signs of Heat-Related Conditions.
According to the National Institutes of Health, heat illnesses or emergencies can occur with exposure to high temperatures and humidity.

Dehydration can occur when you don’t replace body fluids lost by sweating. Being even slightly dehydrated can make you feel bad and put you at greater risk for heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Watch for These Signs of Mild to Moderate Dehydration:

  • Thirst

  • Dry or sticky mouth

  • Dry, cool skin

  • Headache

  • Muscle cramps

  • Not urinating much or darker-colored urine

Signs of Severe Dehydration:

  • Not urinating or very dark-colored urine

  • Dry, shriveled skin

  • Irritability or confusion

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Breathing rapidly

  • Fatigue or listlessness

  • Unconsciousness

Heat cramps are the first stage of heat illness and can share some of the symptoms of dehydration. Those symptoms are as follows:

  • Muscle cramps and pains, often in the legs or abdomen

  • Very heavy sweating

  • Fatigue

  • Thirst

  • Heat exhaustion symptoms include:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Weakness

  • Cool, moist skin

  • Dark urine

  • Nausea and vomiting

If you experience signs of dehydration, heat cramps or heat exhaustion:

  • Stop exercising right away.

  • Sip water or suck on ice cubes.

  • Move to the shade or indoors as soon as possible.

  • Douse yourself with cold water.

  • Apply cold, wet cloths to the neck, groin and armpits.

  • Seek medical attention if your condition doesn’t improve or gets worse.

Heat stroke is when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature, and it keeps rising. This is extremely serious and requires immediate medical attention.

Call 9-1-1 and take the actions above right away if you experience these symptoms:

  • High fever (above 104 degrees F)

  • Hot, dry, red skin

  • Fast, weak pulse

  • Fast, shallow breathing

  • Irrational behavior or extreme confusion

  • Seizure or unconsciousness

Remember, you can exercise outdoors as long as you are doing it safely and smartly! Don't let a little heat make you avoid getting your daily recommended amount of exercise each week-keep cool and keep up the good work for your health! 

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