Summertime is the ideal time to be active. As the weather heats up, many people are also turning up the heat on their personal fitness. While exercise can be particularly enjoyable during the warm weather months, it’s important to take proper precautions to stay healthy and safe.
Samantha Clayton, master personal trainer and vice president of Sports Performance and Fitness Education at Herbalife, explains why the body responds differently to activity done in the heat:
“Heat adds stress to the body because it must work harder to balance a core temperature,” she said. “The body sweats more to cool down when training in hot weather. Losing that additional fluid can impact performance and lead to heat-related illnesses.”
Clayton shares three questions to ask yourself before exercising outdoors to help you be safe and feel well:
1. What is the weather forecast?
The first step is to check the expected weather conditions for the day. According to the National Weather Service, a heat index at or above 90 poses a significant health risk when engaging in physical activity outdoors. Keep in mind, each person has a different heat tolerance and fitness level, so this is just a guideline.
“Humidity is another key factor to watch,” said Clayton. “It impacts training because the moisture in the air prevents the body from cooling as efficiently through sweating and evaporation. Plus, the body responds to humidity by sending blood closer to the surface of the skin to cool down, depriving muscles of circulation, which can cause cramping.”
If weather predicts heat and humidity, choose a cool time of day to avoid midday sun. Early morning exercise is optimal. If needed, work out indoors at home or head to your local gym.
2. What clothes are best for the conditions?
During summer heat, it’s important to wear lightweight clothing that will wick away sweat to keep you cool and dry, plus protect you from UV rays. Rather than hats, opt for sunglasses and visors that shade the eyes from the sun while allowing heat loss through the head to keep you feeling cooler.
“Beyond clothing, look for shaded outdoor spaces to work out, like a pavilion to stretch or a shaded park path for running,” Clayton suggested.
3. How much should you drink?
Your body sweats even if you don’t feel like it is. When it’s hot outside, it sweats even more. Add movement while training, and you can bet you’re losing fluid quickly. That’s why hydration should be a priority.
“Replacing lost fluid is important and the amount varies depending on your size, the weather and activity level. A good baseline is for every 20 minutes of exercise to sip at least 4 ounces of fluid,” said Clayton.
Remember, when the body sweats it loses more than just water. That’s why when training it’s smart to drink a sports drink, just like professional athletes, like Herbalife24® CR7 Drive Drink with electrolytes like potassium, magnesium and sodium to help enhance hydration and replace electrolytes lost in sweat.
Beware heat exhaustion
Even professional athletes with years of experience may push themselves too far in the heat. That proves it’s worthwhile for everyone to review the signs of heat exhaustion when exercising:
- Excessive sweating
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Vision problems
- Muscle cramps
If you notice any of these symptoms, stop and find a cool place to rest, like in the shade or an air-conditioned building. Take small sips of water — cool is ideal but not ice cold. If symptoms don’t subside after rest and fluids, you may need medical attention. Call your doctor’s triage line with any questions or concerns.
“With the correct steps, you can continue to exercise safely outdoors many days this summer,” Clayton said. “Be proactive and listen to your body and you’ll feel great while striving toward your fitness goals.”
For more information and tips on a healthy lifestyle, visit iamherbalifenutrition.com.