Summer fitness rule No. 1: Avoid heatstroke
Did you know that exercising in the heat puts stress on your heart and lungs? Exercise, along with high air temperature, raises your body temperature and increases your heart rate. Normally, your body adjusts adequately on its own. But if you're exposed to heat for too long, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heatstroke can occur. You don't want to spend any of your summertime in the ER, so here are the top six summer fitness tips to stay cool.
Get out early ... or late
Avoid exercising in the middle of the day when the sun is hottest, usually between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., give or take. If you do go outdoors during these times, avoid direct sun and try to find shade — or exercise in a pool.
Sunscreen won't keep you cool, directly, but it will prevent you from burning, which decreases your body's ability to cool itself. And you'll avoid skin cancer. Look for one with a SPF 30 and reapply often.
Water, that is. Even if you don't feel thirsty, drink every 15 minutes or so on hot days. If you're sweating profusely, include sports drinks, which contain added electrolytes and minerals.
Even if you feel that black biking shirt brings out your best features, skip it in lieu of a white or light-colored top. Black and dark colors absorb heat. Think lightweight or invest in some of the new fabrics that wick away moisture.
Have a back-up plan
Plan to work out indoors on hot days. Find an air-conditioned gym — go early, since many others will likely have the same idea. Walk the mall — briskly and with athletic shoes, not four-inch wedges. Or jump in a pool. But skip the raft with the built-in cup holder until you've done at least a few laps.
Know when you've had enough
When it's hot enough to melt asphalt, skip the wind sprints up Suicide Hill, especially if you have these symptoms: weakness, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, rapid heartbeat or nausea or vomiting. Stop. Get out of the heat. If you're with a group, have someone stay with you. Drink water and wet your skin to cool off. If you don't feel better within 60 minutes, develop a fever higher than 102 degrees, or become faint and confused, seek immediate medical help.
More on staying cool in the summer heat
Summer fitness tips to keep your cool
10 Stay-cool tips
How to exercise and beat the heat