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Summer is a great time for being active. Even if you live where it gets hot or humid, there are ways you can stay in shape year-round. But make sure to take precautions when you are active outside.

Be safe in the heat

If the temperature is lower than 80°F (27°C), you usually can be active outside without taking extra precautions. It depends on how active you already are and how used to hot weather you are.

But anytime you exercise, it's a good idea to take these normal precautions:

  • Drink plenty of water. This is very important when it’s hot out and when you do intense exercise.
  • Don't exercise as hard when it's hot. Take rest breaks. Exercise more slowly than usual or for a shorter time.
  • Stay in the shade when you can.
  • Avoid exercising during the hottest times of the day.
  • Wear light-colored, breathable clothes.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion, such as nausea, dizziness, cramps, and headache. If you notice any signs, stop your activity right away, cool off, and drink fluids.

When the temperature gets above 80°F (27°C), consider the heat and the humidity. Both can put you at risk for heat-related illness. The hotter or more humid it is, the higher your risk. For example, if the humidity is 60% (moderate):

  • Be careful when you exercise in temperatures of 80°F (27°C) to 85°F (29°C). Find shade, take regular breaks, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Experts advise being extremely careful between about 85°F (29°C) and 91°F (32.8°C).
  • Conditions are considered extremely dangerous at temperatures over 91°F (32.8°C).

When it is more humid, you should be careful at even lower temperatures. Higher humidity can make it feel hotter, since your body cannot cool off as well by sweating. This puts you at a greater risk for illness. For more information, see the website www.nws.noaa.gov and search for "heat index."

Older adults and children are at a higher risk for heat-related illness and should be extra cautious. Remind children to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after activity.

If you are overweight, have health problems, take medicines, or use alcohol, you may be at a higher risk for heat-related illness. You may also have trouble if you're not used to exercising in warmer weather.

In hot weather, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after activity. Water or sports drinks are best. This helps to prevent dehydration and heat-related illness. Water is all you need if you are exercising for less than an hour. For longer exercise periods, sports drinks contain carbohydrate and minerals called electrolytes that may help your endurance and keep you from getting muscle cramps.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 25, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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