Outdoor Summer Exercise Safety Tips
Avoiding heat stroke
Heat stroke is serious, but you can avoid it if you exercise smart in hot weather. On hot days, workout early. Long summer days give you enough daylight to get in a short hike or bike ride when the sun is still low.
Start before dawn if you’re going on a long hike, and choose a shady loop trail that keeps you out of the sun. Try to walk near a lake or stream and plan to be back before noon. Time estimates on park maps might be for marching straight through. Your hike could take longer.
Stock your day pack with chilled water bottles, and remember to actually drink the water. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sodas because these drinks dehydrate you. Sports drinks are fine, but water is usually the best choice.
Humidity makes it harder for your body to cool itself. Perspiration cools you when it evaporates, and it doesn’t evaporate well when the air is full of moisture. Humid days can feel as if it’s 10 degrees hotter than the actual temperature.
You can also avoid overheating by exercising at your own pace, not someone else’s. Never let anyone tell you to hurry up in hot weather. If you feel too hot, sit down in the shade, drink water or a sports drink, and rest.
Signs of overheating while exercising
Feeling too hot is one of the signs of overheating. Another is a red face. Since you can’t see your own face, always bike or hike with a friend.
Heat cramps come in your stomach, arms or legs, perhaps along with sweating, fatigue and thirst. Heat cramps are telling you to sit down in the shade as soon as possible, and drink some cool water.
Heat exhaustion is more severe than heat cramps. You feel nausea, headache or dizziness. Again, sit or lie down in the shade. Drink water or sports drinks, and, if possible, take a cool shower, or place cool, damp cloths on your head, neck, armpits and groin. If you don’t feel better soon, seek medical attention.