Question:

How can I avoid heat injury while exercising in the hot weather?   –Jeff V.

It’s enjoyable to take your workouts outdoors in the summer, but remember that when temperatures and humidity levels rise, you run the risk of dehydration, fainting, heat exhaustion and sunburn. For these reasons, there are several precautions to take while exercising in the heat. 

The most important thing you can do is to remain hydrated. The amount of water you need to consume directly correlates to how long and strenuous your workout is going to be. As a guideline, for normal daily activities, you should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water. If you are participating in an activity that excels your heart rate and body temperature, drink more than your normal daily recommend amount and add in a beverage that has electrolytes about 30 minutes prior to exercise. This is because you’re going to be sweating more and losing electrolytes that your body needs to function properly. Another important factor to consider is the type of clothes to wear. Dry-fit materials and climate-controlled clothing are usually better for the hot, humid weather. Heavy clothing and fabrics will trap in heat and can make the body fatigue more quickly or even promote heat exhaustion (heat stroke). I always tell my athletes during their summer sports training regimens to time their workouts to avoid the midday sun, and also gradually get acclimated to the weather. When you know in advance that you’re going to be training in hot climates, it’s essential that you get your body used to the heat by easing your way into your workout. Lastly, make sure to include a warm up and cool down period that is done in the same atmosphere as your workout. Doing a warm up or cool down in a cooler space can shock your body and cause you to get sick, which can result in injury.

Heat-related illnesses and injuries are largely preventable. Now that you what precautions to take, go outside and have fun! Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and listen to your body. Stop exercising immediately if you feel dizzy, faint or nauseous.

–  Skeet Grimes, Certified Personal Trainer