Dilemmas, dilemmas. On the one hand it’s summer in Montana and the outdoors are calling. On the other hand, we’re in the midst of a record-breaking heatwave with no relief in site. It’s in times like these when it becomes important to review safety tips for exercising outside in the heat. Here are a few tips:
- Adjust your schedule. Try to avoid the afternoon sun and heat. In Montana, we have the advantage of lower humidity, and relatively cool mornings and evenings. Start the hike early, or if you can, save the run, walk, or bike till dusk—the sun still sets after 9pm, so there’s plenty of time to do a night session. Midday your only option? Head to a gym for a cool indoor workout.
- Hydrate! The most important preventative measure to avoid heat related illness is to stay hydrated. Proper hydration means consistent fluid intake throughout your day. Waiting until you feel thirsty is usually too late! If you are losing a lot of sweat through exercise, consider a sports drink containing electrolytes and a small amount of carbohydrate during and/or after exercise in order to replace nutrients lost through sweat.
- Wear appropriate gear. Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and moisture wicking clothes (shirt/shorts/socks) are must-haves when going out into the heat.
- Take it easy. Your body can adapt to the heat, but it takes time, usually around two weeks. So if you’re not used to the heat, lower the intensity and/or duration of your exercise to avoid exhaustion. If you feel like you’re overdoing it, set aside your pride and shut it down. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition and can take several days or weeks to recover from.
Want to learn more about heat illness? The Mayo Clinic has a nice article about the warning signs, and more about how to avoid heat illness. Click here to learn more.
Stay cool y’all.