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Exercising in the Heat

9 ways to keep your summer workouts safe.

Summer Exercise Tip No. 4: Wear Light, Breathable Clothing

Lightweight fabrics that wick away sweat are best for exercising in the heat, says Eberle. Clothes should also be light in color in order to reflect the sun.

"One common problem is people overdress," she says. "They cover up the working muscles in the legs, which generates a lot of heat."

Sunscreen is also important when you exercise outdoors.

"A well-ventilated hat with a brim and some lightweight sunglasses can [protect your face] and help prevent headaches," says Eberle.

If your summer workout involves wearing a protective helmet, adds Roberts, remove it during rest periods to allow your head to breathe and cool off.

Summer Exercise Tip No. 5: Exercise Early or Late

If possible, get out before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to exercise in the summer months, says Roberts. This will add length to your day, and energy to your summer workout. Inevitably, heat and humidity will slow you down.

"In the worst part of summer, especially if you just want to exercise for health, do it in the gym if you can. Or get out early in the day or late in the evening," says Branch.

Summer Exercise Tip No. 6: Assess the Previous Day

It’s not enough to know how you feel right before going out to exercise in the heat, says Roberts.

"It’s very important with those who exercise regularly to take into account the physical activity, fluid ingestion, and diet of the previous day," she says. "You could be dehydrated or fatigued even prior to exercising," which could get you into trouble faster on a hot day, she says.

Summer Exercise Tip No. 7: Know the Route and Climate

It’s important to know your route and your climate, says Roberts.

"Make sure that there’s some shade along the way and that you’re not exposed to constant direct sunlight," she says.

Check the heat index for the relative humidity that day and plan accordingly, she says. Contain your summer exercise to the least hot and humid part of the day.

If you live in a dry climate, like the desert Southwest, says Roberts, remember that sweat evaporates quickly. You’re going to lose a lot more fluid exercising in the heat in Phoenix than Portland. And because it’s drying almost before you can see it, you don’t know how much fluid you’re losing.

Summer Exercise Tip No. 8: Consult Your Doctor or Pharmacist

Many medications -- both prescription and over-the-counter -- can intensify the effects of heat-related illnesses, says Roberts. Decongestants, appetite suppressants, antihistamines, antihypertensives, and antidepressants can hasten dehydration and decrease the body’s ability to recognize danger.

Even diuretics like caffeine and alcohol, when consumed before exercising in the heat, can accelerate the effects of dehydration, says Roberts.

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