Summer is just around the corner, which means we can get outside and enjoy many outdoor activities. Whether you’re biking, swimming or running, playing pick-up sports or simply taking long walks after dinner, summer is a great time to revive your fitness program or switch it up to keep things fresh, engaging and enjoyable.
Of course, the heat of summer brings an increased risk for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so a measure of caution is warranted. To prevent heat stress and enjoy being active outdoors all summer, implement the following SWEAT practices:
Sunscreen: Not only is sunburn harmful to the skin and increases the risk for skin cancer, having a sunburn can make movement painful. Rather than put yourself at risk, be sure to lather up on sunscreen prior to heading outdoors. To establish a habit, leave a bottle of water-resistant sunscreen near the front door, so when you head outside it’s right there. Be sure to reapply every few hours if you intend to be in the sun for a while.
Water: Being hydrated is a great way to ensure you are ready to exercise in the heat. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion as well as impaired performance. The average person typically loses about 2.5 liters (84.5 ounces) of fluid per day, an amount that doesn't account for exercise or being in the heat. To have an idea about how much fluid is lost while exercising in the heat, weigh yourself before and after a workout session—this should provide an estimate of how much fluid is lost. Another sure way to stay hydrated during exercise in the heat is to consume 8 fluid ounces every 15 minutes or so. Lastly, a simple way to assess your hydration is to perform the "urine test." When you urinate, evaluate the color of your urine—the closer to clear, the more hydrated you are, and the darker the yellow, the more dehydrated you are.
Ease into it: Exercising in the heat takes time to get acclimated. Take into consideration the temperature, humidity and time of day when training in the warmer months. As the temperature and humidity increase, scale your outdoor exercise back a bit and allow yourself up to two weeks to get used training in the heat. Avoid training in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are at their greatest intensity.
Attire: Be sure to dress appropriately. Light-colored and lightweight clothing are ideal, and if you can wear performance or dry-fit clothing, do so. Darker colors tend to attract the sun, so avoid wearing them.
Tools: Tools for managing the heat include fuel, sunglasses and hats. Be sure to properly fuel your body before exercising in the heat to prevent dizziness and nausea, which may be exacerbated by the heat. Having a piece of fruit or energy bar on hand is a good idea, just in case you start to feel light-headed or dizzy. Sunglasses and hats are great additional protectors from the sun.
Summer is a great time to increase physical activity and exercise. However, before you step outside, be sure you SWEAT first, so you can stay safe in the sun.
Learn more about how you can beat the heat with our heat safety infographic.