Summertime is here and it’s making sure we know it! The higher temperatures can cause some major challenges to staying active. Just walking from the car to the gym can sap our energy even for the most dedicated exerciser. Here are some ways to stay cool. These tips apply to everyone, from residents at Bethany Village to that young runner training for her first marathon.
The higher air temperatures put a lot of extra stress on the body; especially for the actively aging. Exercise itself elevates our core body temperature and with the additional high temperatures, this can lead to heat illness. The elevated body temperatures also trigger a unique physiologic effect by diverting blood to the skin to cool it. This bodily mechanism though takes blood away from the muscles which also increases the heart rate and blood pressure. The higher temperatures can also bring higher humidity levels, which prevent the sweat our bodies create from evaporating increasing body temperatures even more. This increases the chance of heat related illness.
Understanding how to beat the heat is the first step to exercising safely. Here are some tips to stay cool:
- Dress appropriately: wear light colored and loose fitting clothing. Even the air conditioning in a car is sometimes not enough to keep us completely cool when the sun is shining on us.
- Drink plenty of water: a dehydrated body is prone to heat illness. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, have a water bottle filled and ready so you can sip on it.
- Cool down completely: even after exercising at a indoor gym, your body temperature is elevated above its normal state. Before venturing outside, make sure to completely cool down by drinking water, wiping sweat off the skin and resting for 5-10 minutes or more if needed.
- Morning or night: plan to workout in the morning or evening to avoid the higher temperatures. Even if exercising in an indoor gym, try to select a time that gives you a better chance of staying as cool as possible.
- Sunscreen: use sunscreen of SPF 30 or 50 to prevent the suns rays from burning your skin. Sunburns trap body heat.
- Know your medications: some medications can be adversely affected when your body temperature rises. Check with your doctor regarding possible side effects.
- Understand your medical status: if you have been ill, had surgery or are on new medication, check with your doctor on recommendations about exercising in higher temperatures.
- Reduce your workout time: if you know high temperatures are going to be present, reduce your workout time by a few minutes or cut it in half until the heat drops off. This can help reduce the chance for a heat illness.
- Use common sense: know yourself and your routine. Knowing yourself and how you feel can prevent you from a heat related illness!