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Exercising in the Heat: How to Do It Safely

By Sara Butler

While summer is a great time to get outside and exercise, it’s also a time you need to be cautious in order to remain healthy. Exercising in the heat has an impact on your body, and if you’re not careful it may be easy to go just a bit too far. Here is how exercising in the heat impacts your body and what you need to do to remain cool.

How Hot Weather Impacts the Body

As you exercise, your body temperature will rise. This is due to the blood pumping through your body delivering oxygen to your muscles as you exercise. When it’s hot outside this can make the spike in your body’s temperature more dramatic because your heart is sending a lot of blood to your skin to try to cool it down, leaving less blood for your muscles and increasing your heart rate even more.

When you throw humidity into the mix, your sweat may not be able to properly cool you down since it doesn’t evaporate as it should. This can make your body temperature rise even higher, and that can lead you straight to a heat-related illness.

How to Stay Cool

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise outside when it hot, but it does mean you should be smart about it. First of all, don’t exercise outside during the hottest part of the day if you can help it. Midafternoon will be the hottest part of the day. The best time to get out is early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures have cooled off.

Also, you can’t forget to hydrate. This is something you must keep a special eye on in hot weather when you’re outside being active. You can normally use your thirst as a guide for how much to drink and when, but when the temperature is above 90 degrees you should try to drink cool water about every half hour when outside.

Clothing is really important as well. Hats are a great idea to help give you some shade, and lightweight clothing is a must to protect your skin from the rays of the sun to keep you cool. Make sure you always wear sunscreen, too – no one wants to get sunburned! Try not to wear dark colors or fabrics that won’t allow your skin to breathe.

The simplest and most important thing you can do is listen to your body when you’re exercising outside. If you feel funny or you start to feel bad you should stop what you’re doing and cool off!

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