Wellness Matters

7 Ways to Keep Up Your Exercise Routine in the Heat

August 29, 2016

Cardiovascular exercise is so important to our health. A doctor will always recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, if you are physically able. One of the best ways to get our heart rate up is to run, jog or walk. However, in the summer, these activities can be very uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.

If you are exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, your cooling systems such as your skin, blood vessels and perspiration output may begin to fail. Exercising in the extreme heat can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. It is important to immediately stop exercising and cool down at the first sign of any of these symptoms:
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sudden weakness
  • Confusion
  • Visual problems
How do we keep up our exercise regimen while staying safe in the summer heat? Here are tips to keep you exercising through the summer season.
  1. Avoid the midday sun. Always try to exercise in the morning or the early evening when temperatures are a bit cooler, humidity is lower and the sun is not directly overhead.
  2. Wear sunscreen. Sunburn will decrease the body’s ability to cool itself.
  3. Dress for the temperature. Loose fitting and lightweight clothing helps sweat to evaporate, which helps your body stay cooler. Light colored clothing will not absorb as much heat as dark colored clothing.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids. Begin hydrating before you exercise and continue throughout your routine. When you become thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
  5. Know your limits. Trying to top personal bests may not be the best idea when exercising in extreme heat. Do enough to maintain your level of fitness so you can set new records when the temperatures are cooler.
  6. Acclimate yourself. Spend a little time in the heat prior to exercising. Let your body adjust to the outdoor temperature before you begin your workout.
  7. Keep an eye on the thermometer. Some days it is just too hot to exercise safely outdoors. If this is the case, find an indoor facility or take a day off.

Running a race can be a good motivator to get people up and moving. There are many great races in the fall, such as the Women’s Only 5KWalk and Run. As runners train for this and other events during the summer, it is important to stay safe. Many heat related injuries and illnesses are preventable. Use precaution and common sense when exercising so that your workout will be helpful rather than harmful.

About the Author



Tiffany Randolph, MD is a cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare at Church Street

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