With temperatures expected to climb into the 100s again this weekend, it is important for the community to take precautions when being active outside. Keep the following tips in mind when venturing outdoors to get your daily workout.
Hydrate. This is the most basic, obvious advice for anyone planning an outdoor workout in the heat. However, many people hydrate incorrectly. It is important to drink fluids during and for 24 hours after strenuous exercise, especially in the heat. Aim to consume four to eight ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.
Drinking isn’t the only way to hydrate — foods with high water content, such as cucumbers and watermelon, can help as well.
However, athletes also need to monitor their fluid intake to minimize risk of hyponatremia, which occurs when the sodium level in a person’s blood gets too low. One cause is excess fluid intake during high-intensity exercise, which dilutes the blood sodium level.
Drinking sports drinks with electrolytes and salt is also essential after a hard workout in the sun. Many of these drinks are high in sugar, so double check the label before chugging something that may have unnecessary ingredients.
Wear appropriate clothing. Just the other day, I saw a young man running down Bastogne Street in a sweatshirt and a beanie. It was 95 degrees. While I understand the desire to train in this manner, it is dangerous. Wearing improper clothing does not allow sweat to evaporate from the body, which can result in heat stroke or exhaustion.
Working out in light-colored, moisture-wicking, loose-fitting clothing is imperative in summer heat. This will allow sweat to evaporate from your body, naturally cooling you off.
Use sunscreen. Many people might not even think twice before stepping out the door for their morning run without applying sunscreen, but this is a mistake. Although the peak time for sun exposure is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can get burned at any time, so make sure you apply at least SPF 30 before exercising outside.
Monitor heat warnings. Another one of the most basic tips is to check the local weather before engaging in outdoor athletic activities. Lately, our area has been under heat advisories that caution against any extended activity outside. The National Weather Service issues these heat advisories when the heat index is at or above 100 degrees for two hours. The point of these warnings is to mitigate unnecessary injuries resulting from outdoor activities in the heat, so take heed when your area is under an active advisory.
Pick the right workout. Running a two mile sprint probably isn’t the smartest idea when it’s 92 degrees outside with 90 percent humidity. Take it a little slower if you have to, and try engaging in cooler workouts, like swimming, or go for a hike or trail run in shaded woods.
Plan strategically. Try to structure your workout schedule to allow morning or evening exercise, when the heat and humidity are lower. If this isn’t possible, think about taking your routine indoors.
Track your heart rate. Heart rate monitors are not only helpful for tracking workout efficiency —they can also alert you when your body may be dehydrated. Those who use heart rate monitors regularly know what their usual heart rate is during their workout. If they notice an unusual heart rate spike, that may be a sign of a heat-related issue.
Listen to your body. No one knows your body better than you, so make sure you pay attention to it! If you start feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or just not like yourself during a normal workout, stop. Don’t push yourself because you have to finish that one workout. The reward is not worth the risk.