Summertime means getting outdoors to enjoy your favorite activities. But it’s HOT! Here are some tips for managing the heat when you are outdoors this summer.
Before You Go
Assess your own fitness level and that of your family members. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are considered sensitive to high temperatures and to poor air quality. They should restrict their time and activities outdoors.
• Check the Heat Index (combination of air temperature and humidity level) before you go, and adjust your plans accordingly.
• Check the Air Quality Index (AQI). This is a combined measure of unhealthy ozone and particle pollution levels. ("Air quality index")
• Plan activities that have built-in ways to stay cool, like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or tubing down a local river. If you want to bike or hike, choose shady trails whenever possible.
Beat the Heat
• Timing--avoid strenuous activity between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., which is the hottest part of the day. Start in the cooler morning hours for an uphill hike or a long bike ride.
• Slow down—expect to exercise at a lower intensity than usual. Watch your heart rate. Your heart will work harder to send blood flow to your skin to cool your body, so there is less blood for your muscles. You will reach your target heart rate with less intense exercise than usual, so moderate your workout.
• Sun protection—hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. On hot hikes, try dipping your canvas hat in a stream or wrap a line of ice cubes into a bandana, then wrap the bandana around your neck.
• Clothing—loose, light-colored clothing is best, because light colors reflect heat away from your body. Consider the new SPF clothing, which has built-in sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. It is currently available for shirts, pants, and hats.
• Protective gear—besides the usual gear like bike helmets, remember to take flip-flops to protect feet from hot parking lots or beach sand, and water shoes for rocks in the river.
• Water—drink plenty of water before, during, and after physical activity. How much water? If you plan to be out all day, plan at least three quarts per adult for an all-day outing. Sip water every 15 minutes throughout the day.
• Sports drink—if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes, or if you sweat a lot, take along a sports drink to replace electrolytes lost through sweat.
• Snacks—pack portable foods that won’t spoil in the heat, like whole fruit, cut-up raw veggies, trail mix, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Know the signs of heat-related illness, which can become life-threatening, if not treated in a timely way. Early signs are muscle cramping, dizziness or faintness, fast and shallow breathing, cold and clammy skin, or nausea or vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, get out of the heat immediately, cool down, and sip water. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
Through sensible planning, you and your family can have an enjoyable and safe outdoor experience this summer.
Guest Blogger Adrian Dunn is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach, and Fitness Coach for EverydayHealth.com.
Air quality index (aqi)-a guide to air quality and your health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi