The heat is on

Published 9:42 am Saturday, June 26, 2010

It’s that time of year again, when temperatures in the triple digits threaten us.

However, with the winter we have had, many are looking forward to getting outside to resume an exercise program. Some are looking for a healthier lifestyle, and others just want to shed those extra pounds gained during the winter months.

The question is how do we enjoy the outdoors safely?

Exercising in heat needs to be approached with caution. First, do some planning. You should try to find a route that is mostly shaded.

Avoid exercise during the hottest period of the day. Beginners need to start slow, but even those who have been exercising need to cut it back when exercising in the heat.

Decreasing the duration or intensity of your exercise when the temperatures climb and gradually becoming acclimated to higher temperatures over time should be considered.

What you wear is also important. Light, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen are musts. Cotton is a good choice, but there is a ton of “wicking” clothing for sale in stores, which help take the moisture (sweat) away from your body.

Therefore, you will not end up with a wet, sweaty T-shirt stuck to your body as you might with a cotton fabric. The wicking fabric remains light while keeping you dry.

Be aware of signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Make sure to stay properly hydrated. You should drink a glass of water before exercising in the heat and then rehydrate every 20 to 30 minutes.

A good rule of thumb is by the time you are thirsty, you are already becoming dehydrated. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, paleness, fatigue, headache, dizziness and muscle cramps.

Stopping exercise and cooling the body by means such as cool water, air-conditioning, or a cool shower, are the best measures to take. Heat exhaustion may turn into heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.

The risk for complications such as heat exhaustion increases for those who have not been involved in an exercise program, those who have other health issues and for the elderly. As with any new program, it is best to get a doctor’s clearance before beginning. Take these tips, and be smart in this heat.