It’s finally summer, and restrictions are lifting. It’s the perfect time to get back to your regular, busy fitness schedule, including outdoor soccer games, long bike rides, and fun at the beach.
However, summer also brings higher temperatures; I am experiencing record-breaking temperatures during an extended heatwave, so my activities have had to adjust in order for me to stay well.
With higher temperatures comes the risk of heat related emergencies. Muscle cramps are an early but painful indicator that it may be too hot to work out. Suppose humidity levels are also high, the risk of a heat-related illness increases. While working out or being physically active, your body temperature naturally rises, and when this is coupled with high outdoor temperatures, the heat can become dangerous.
For most adults, a typical body temperature can range from 97 F to 99 F. Our bodies are incredible machines and can effectively keep our bodies within this range, even when outdoors. However, being physically active, exercising, or engaging in sports during the high heat summer months, it’s all too easy for the body to become too hot.
- Drink lots of plain, cold water
- Take advantage of shady areas and misting stations
- Reel in your exercise intensity, and take lots of breaks
- Wear clothes designed to keep you cool
When our bodies become dangerously hot, it is a life-threatening emergency. Heat exhaustion can come on quickly, so watch for its signs and symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include lots of sweating, a weak, fast pulse, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, headache, and muscle cramps. If this occurs, act quickly. Stop your activity, find a cool place, and drink water or a sports drink. Your body should be able to get back to its average temperature within an hour or so.
Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke if no action is taken, and heatstroke is deadly. When the body becomes too hot, it is in a state of overheating. If you observe the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, call 911 or whatever emergency services are in your area:
- A body temperature of over 104 F
- Confusion, irritability, confusion, altered speech
- Hot, dry skin
- Nausea, vomiting, and headache
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- A fast heart rate
If you can, any person with a heat-related emergency should be moved into the shade or a cool area. Remove any unnecessary clothing. Use water to cool the person down, either by sponging or by using cold, wet towels. Target the head, back of the neck, armpits, and groin area when offering cooling options. Ensure that emergency services have been contacted and provide first aid until they arrive.
Despite the heat of summer, it’s still important to stay active. It just means choosing our physical and fitness activities well; avoid the hottest parts of the day, and avoid exerting yourself outdoors when the temperatures rise. Choose fitness centers that offer air conditioning. Be sure to give your body time to return to an average temperature, a regular heart rate, and regular breathing before heading back to the hot outdoors.
There are many ways to stay active, allowing you to keep cool and avoid the dangers of heat-related emergencies. First, do some research into your local community; there may be many opportunities for physical activity while enjoying the air conditioning. Swimming is another excellent option, especially indoor pools. If you choose to swim outdoor during the heat, choose to swim in the early morning hours or when the day begins to cool down during sunset.
Early morning and late evening are the perfect time to enjoy a walk or easy pedal. Find open areas where your body temperature can stay on point by benefiting from a breeze or light wind. Choose activities that are perhaps not as intense as you typically engage in. A light session of yoga, stretching, or other similarly paced workout holds many benefits without the risk of overheating.