As the weather gets warm, many of us are gearing up to head outside and get fit. We really can’t wait to ditch the treadmill and the sweaty smell of the gym for pavement or grass, and the sweet smell of fresh air.
But exercising outside – especially as the temperatures continue to rise – can be dangerous and potentially deadly. It’s important to first understand how heat can affect your body, and what happens when you don’t pay attention to the signs. Once you know, you can find ways to stay cool and stay outside!
The Heat Effect
When the sun gets strong, so too does its power to zap you. During higher temperatures, your blood circulates more through your skin to cool you down, which leaves less for your muscles. This increases the heart rate, and is compounded if there are high humidity levels; the higher the humidity, the harder it is for your sweat to evaporate.
The result? Painful muscle contractions called heat cramps, or lightheadedness and fainting. There’s also heat exhaustion, where your body temperature can get as high as 104 degrees. Left untreated, this can lead to a heatstroke, which is a serious condition.
According to WebMD, if you have these symptoms, stop exercise, get out of the heat and hydrate.
- - Muscle cramps
- - Nausea or vomiting
- - Weakness
- - Fatigue
- - Headache
- - Sweating extensively
- - Dizziness or lightheadedness
- - Confusion
- - Irritability
- - Low blood pressure
- - Increased heart rate
- - Visual problems
Keep it Cool
1. Chill Out: One of the best ways to avoid overheating is simply not doing strenuous exercise during high temperatures. Check the forecast, and if the humidity is up, switch your jog for a walk or change your biking path to one that has little to no hills. At the very least, plan your workout in the morning or late evening when it’s the coolest outside.
2. All About That Hydration: Seems simple, but drinking enough water can be a hassle when you’re on the go – especially jogging. With OGIO Hydration Packs, you have a full bladder right on your back, so it doesn’t get in the way and keeps you hands-free. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink; instead, keep up a slow but steady drinking pace to ensure you don’t get water bloat, but you stay cool.
3. Take A Cold Shower: Hopping in the shower or bath full of cool water can bring your core temperature down and help you stay steady when you get sweaty. It won’t last very long, but it will help improve your initial performance.
4. Don’t Be Colorful: Stick to light-colored clothing that doesn’t hug you tight. It will help reflect the sun while allowing air to circulate around your skin. “Wicking” fabrics like cotton/polyester blends that are designed to pull moisture away from your skin are very helpful.
5. Get Shady: Find a big, shady spot to stop, and do it frequently. You’re trying to keep up a healthy heart rate, not unhealthy rates, so it’s better to keep it lower than push yourself.
6. Ice, Ice, Baby: Grab some ice packs and store them in your backpack. When you stop in the shade, pull them out and run them over your neck and wrists. Don’t keep them there for more than a few seconds; going from one extreme temperature to another can be unhealthy, so use it sparingly.
7. Take a Dip: Water exercises are actually quite good for you, and are a great way to raise your heart rate without raising your risk for overheating. Even soaking in a pool, though, you still need to drink plenty of water.
Following these simple tricks will help you stay cool while exercising outside, but it’s so important to continue to check your heart rate and take stock of how you feel every few minutes. When the temps start to reach above 90 degrees, however, it might be better just to grab your gear and hit the treadmill — knowing that it’s better to workout inside than get hurt outside.