Beat the Heat While You Stay Healthy and Fit
When the weather's hot and humid, exercising may be the last thing you feel
like doing. Believe it or not, though, exercise can be one of the best ways to
beat the heat. Whether it's an air-conditioned gym or the cool water of an
ocean dive, exercising wisely can save you a lot of suffering.
The Great Outdoors
Exercising outside during the summer is still
an option. Swim in the refreshing waters of a mountain lake or in-line skate on
a breezy day. But make sure you take precautions to prevent yourself from
getting sunburned and dehydrated.
Use a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of at
least 15 and drink at least 4 ounces of water or fluid-replacement beverage for
every 20 minutes of exercise.
If you choose to exercise outside, progress
into it slowly, giving your body time to adjust to the heat. Exercise during
the cooler parts of the day -- first thing in the morning (before 10 a.m.) or
after the hot midday hours (after 4 p.m.).
Your heart rate can serve as a good indicator
of how your body is tolerating the heat during exercise. On a day of high heat
or humidity, your heart will probably beat faster than it usually would doing
the same workout. If this happens, it may simply be too hot and humid for you.
Slow down or stop what you're doing and hit the local air-conditioned
Most gyms crank up the air-conditioning
during the hot months, making it quite comfortable for workouts. However, if
the gym doesn't increase the air, or if you prefer to workout at home, be sure
to keep the ventilation going by using a fan or opening the window.
And remember, dehydration can occur even if
you're inside and especially if it becomes warm and humid. The more you sweat,
the more water you will need to drink. So you may need to drink more than the
recommended amount above. In some cases this amount should be
If air-conditioning is simply not available,
take advantage of the heat by doing yoga or stretching. These activities are
most effective when the muscle temperature is high.
Water, Water, Water
Proper hydration is a must. No matter how you
choose to exercise or in whatever time of year you choose to do it, your body
Water accounts for approximately 55 percent
to 60 percent of an adult's body weight. While a loss of 10 percent may pose a
significant health risk, a loss of 20 percent can result in death.
Because exercise generates internal body
heat, which is released and cooled in the form of sweat (water), prolonged
exercise with insufficient fluid replacement can lead to dehydration. Some of
the warning signs of dehydration include headaches, muscle cramps,
lightheadedness, fatigue, confusion, lethargy and a persistently elevated body
temperature. Advanced stages of heat exhaustion can lead to coma and cardiac
And don't forget your dog. If you take it
along with you for exercise, make sure he or she gets enough water. Dogs
overheat more easily because they don't sweat.