As Tucson temperatures rise to a thermometer-bursting 115 degrees, I know I’m not the only one trying to nudge a rebelling body into motion. The heat is draining. And sometimes, it can be downright dangerous. Several people have died in recent weeks hiking in this scorching heat with inadequate water.
It’s important to be prudent about when and where you exercise and imperative to stay hydrated. At all costs, avoid outdoor exercise in the middle of the day and only hike at higher altitudes, where temperatures are cooler and there’s plenty of shade. Beyond those basics, below are a few guidelines to help you stay safe when exercising this summer.
1. Never leave the house without a filled bottle of water, even when not exercising. Carry it when you run, walk, swim, cycle or drive to the grocery. You never know if your car might break down or if errands and appointments will take longer than expected.
2. Drink before, during and after exercise. If possible, weigh yourself before exercise and then after and drink about 20 ounces of water for every pound lost during the workout.
3. Replenish with electrolytes post-exercise. In the summer, after I exercise outside, I sometimes feel light-headed. This is because of electrolyte loss through sweating. One way to replenish quickly is to drink a sports drink containing electrolytes. Some drinks are loaded with sugar, so be sure to read labels before buying. Tablets that dissolve in water and contain no sugar are available. One option is the flavored Endurolytes Fizz by Hammer, which contains magnesium, sodium and potassium as well as other minerals.
4. Always wear sunblock with a minimum SPF of 30 and reapply every two hours or after exiting the water. According to my dermatologist, the most effective sunscreens contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. Wearing UPF clothing, which are also sold with a rating for effectiveness in blocking the sun, is also prudent.
Whenever possible, wear a broad brimmed hat and stay inside between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when temperatures are highest and the sun’s rays are most intense. You’re least likely to experience heat-related symptoms and/or emergencies if you exercise in the morning before 8:00 a.m.
5. Stop exercising immediately and seek shelter or call for help if you feel light-headed or dizzy or experience nausea or sudden muscle cramps. This could be a sign of heat exhaustion and can escalate to the life-threatening heat stroke.
6. If you’re off to a late start, head to the fitness center for a class or a workout. Exercising indoors is the best solution in the summer if you’re not an early riser or if you’re heat or allergy-sensitive. 68 to 70 degrees is a much more comfortable — and safe — temperature to exercise than 100 plus!
Employed by Vital Moves, Susan is an AFAA certified personal trainer/group exercise instructor and a 200 RYT Yoga Alliance certified Ashtanga Yoga instructor.