Exercising in the Southern Summer Heat

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A regular exercise program is a good balance to everyone’s life.  It is important to stay physically active all throughout the year.  Now, here in the south, it is a well known fact that our summers are HOT and humid! But, this is not an excuse to forego your entire fitness routine all summer long and let all your progress go out the window.  The key to exercising in the summer is modifying your routine so that you avoid getting too hot and sick from the heat.

With the first day of summer being only days away, the following are some tips to consider as the heat starts rising:

  • Drink plenty of water.  This is vital when it is hot out and you are doing intense exercise.
  • Stay in the shade, when possible.
  • Avoid exercising during the hottest times of the day.
  • Wear light-colored, breathable clothes.
  • Take rest breaks.
  • Exercise more slowly than usual or for a shorter time.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion, such as nausea, dizziness, cramps, and headache.  If you notice ANY signs, stop your activity right away, cool off and drink fluids.

When the temperature starts to get above 80°, it is time to take both heat and humidity into consideration.  Both of these are capable of putting you at risk for a heat-related illness.  The more hot or the more humid it is, the higher the risk.  It is advised that you are extremely careful between 85° and 91° F.  Anything above 91° is considered to be extremely dangerous!  When it is more humid, you should even be more careful at lower temperatures.  Higher humidity can make you feel like it is hotter outside, since your body cannot cool off as well by sweating.

The key to exercising in the summer is adjusting your workouts for the weather.  If it is an extremely hot day, opt for an indoor workout, or just go out later in the evening.  You also have a lesser chance of over-heating if you’re doing lighter exercise. You can opt for walking in the morning or evening, going for a light bike ride, or even swimming.  All of these activities are good for summer workouts that will give you not only a change in routine, but also protect you from heat-related illness.

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