Summer is in full swing and the mercury is rising. When you're exercising or playing outdoors, it's important that you take care to keep yourself cool. My fitness plan is tough enough — you don't need to add heatstroke to the equation! Follow these tips to make sure you stay safe in hot or humid weather.
Time it right. The hottest part of the day usually falls between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Do your workout early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun isn't directly overhead and the temperature is a little cooler.
Dress for the weather. Your body cools itself in part by perspiring. You'll help the process if you wear lightweight, somewhat loose-fitting clothing that allows the sweat to evaporate from your skin. Choose lighter colors because they won't absorb as much heat from the sun, and consider a hat or a visor to keep the sun out of your eyes.
Wear sunscreen. The last thing you want is a sunburn — it'll keep your skin from cooling off and sap precious fluids. Choose a sunscreen free of oxybenzone, a chemical that has been linked to hormone disruption. Use Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database, to see if your sunscreen is safe, and apply it at least 30 minutes before you head outside.
Drink lots of water. Sweating can dehydrate you very quickly, so it's important to keep drinking water. Drink 4 to 8 ounces every 15 minutes while you work out. If you exercise for more than an hour, you may need a sports drink or a snack to replace the salt and other electrolytes you lose as you sweat.
Watch your heart rate. In reaction to heat, your body increases blood flow to your skin in an effort to cool you off. The result is less blood for your muscles and an elevated heart rate. If you're not used to working out in the heat, you might find that you'll reach your target heart rate with less intense exercise than usual. Take it slow at first, and gradually increase your intensity.
JILLIAN'S TIP OF THE DAY
Know the Warning Signs
What can happen if you get too dehydrated or exert yourself in the heat too long? Here are some possibilities, from the least to the most severe:
Heat cramps — muscle pain or spasms
Heat exhaustion — a state of elevated body temperature that's a precursor to heatstroke
Heatstroke — a life-threatening condition in which your body temperature rises above 106°F
If you experience muscle cramping, dizziness, fast and shallow breathing, cold and clammy skin, or nausea or vomiting, get out of the heat immediately and get some water. Heat-related illnesses are no joke, so don't take any chances!
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