Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

It’s officially summer, and it’s officially hot! Summer is a great time to get out into nature and get moving, but be mindful of the heat and its effects on the body. It’s important to prevent exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. Here are some tips to keep you safe (and active) in the heat, according to NPR:

  1. Stay hydrated! I’m sure we sound like a broken record, but ensuring that you drink enough water is one of the most critical factors in preventing heat-related problems (and it’s just a good idea in general). Drink sufficient water at least an hour before exercise, during, and after. The hotter it is, the more water you’ll need to drink. It’s incredible how quickly you can sweat it all out! Don’t wait until you feel dehydrated. It’s best to be proactive and mindful of your water intake. 
  2. Protect your skin! Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Skin acts kind of like an air conditioner for your other organs, and when your skin is damaged (like when it’s sunburned), it can’t keep you cool as effectively. Plus, protecting your skin prevents painful burns and helps decrease your risk of skin cancer. Start with sunscreen (and apply it at least 15 min. before you head out and every hour and a half after), and choose the proper SPF. Everyone should use SPF 30 or higher, and the more prone you are to sunburn, the higher the SPF you need. If you still find yourself getting burned, consider light, loose-fitting clothing, and don’t forget to wear a hat to prevent your scalp from getting burned! Of course, if you are overheating, take a break, find some shade, and rehydrate!
  3. On the topic of clothing, the best clothes to wear when exercising in the heat are materials that wick sweat away from your body. You want your body to be able to breathe and sweat to be able to evaporate. It keeps you cooler and helps regulate your body temperature. 
  4. Ever wonder why it feels so much hotter outside when it’s humid? Dry heat, unlike when the atmosphere is high in humidity, does actually feel less hot. Your body thinks so, too- the heat index (temp plus humidity) matters, so it’s important to factor in both humidity and temperature. This goes back to your body’s ability to keep itself cool: the more humidity, the less sweat evaporation. However, because your sweat does evaporate more quickly in dry heat, remember that you will need to hydrate more frequently to keep up. 
  5. Keep an eye out for local heat advisories. Sometimes, it IS too hot to go for a run or spend too much time in the sun, and it’s ok to wait a day or two to exercise outside vigorously. Swimming is a great choice when it’s really hot out. Lighter forms of exercise are great, too, but listen to your body! You can always exercise inside- we would love to have you here at Fit St. Charles!

Whether exercising in the heat, watching your kids play outside, or exercising in a group, make yourself aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke to keep you and those around you safe. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, extreme thirst, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, muscle cramping, and lightheadedness. Symptoms of heat stroke include symptoms of heat exhaustion, but more severe symptoms as well. These include lack of sweating, confusion, vomiting, seizures, cardiovascular collapse, or passing out. If you or someone you know begin to experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, it’s important to stop before it worsens. 

Heat stroke can be a life-threatening emergency, so if you suspect heat stroke, seek medical attention right away. For heat exhaustion, immediately stop activity and cool down as quickly as possible. Find shade, go inside to an air-conditioned area if possible, and mist or pour water on the areas of your body that cool you down the fastest- your head, armpits, face, and groin. Hydrate and take it easy after you cool down, and continue to listen to your body. 

Now, get out there and have some fun and enjoy the sunshine!