Prevent heat stroke when exercising in the summer
Tania Leach, DC Recreation Examiner.
No matter where you live, when you go outdoors for your summer exercise and entertainment it’s important to not only enjoy the sun but also protect yourself from heat stroke. While I am not a doctor I’ve lived in the dry hot desert for many years and now I live in the hot humid weather that we all love SO much, and consequently over the years I have come up with some tricks for myself when it comes to ensuring my sun safety in the great outdoors. Here are some to help you on your way to enjoying a fabulous summer!
Stay hydrated: Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, fainting and heat stroke. Make sure you are hydrated before you head out. You will find it hard to maintain hydration if you were already dehydrated. You should consume enough water to have clear or pale yellow urine (sorry for the graphic but it's true!). Keep drinking when you return from your work out too.
Take water or sports drink with you so you are not relying on public water fountains. They may be broken or not where you ideally need hydrating. Also you need to be replacing the salt and minerals you are losing through sweating, so taking some specialized sports drink with you will be more effective than just drinking water. I always take one bottle of water and one water mixed with orange juice (5:1 approx respectively) when going on bike rides, but I’m not a hard core athlete so I try to avoid the sugary sports drinks and the calories they include, and the orange juice seems to be enough for me. However, Sports drinks are essential and more effective if you are a serious athlete or are going to be spending a good part of the day out in the sun. So be smart and take what you need with you.
Acclimatize: If you have not been in a warm climate but travel to one. Take some time to become accustomed to the heat. Allow several days before attempting vigorous outdoor exercise, and make sure you hydrate well during those transition days.
Avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day: Get out early or late in the day, usually eary is coolest.
Wear lightweight and light-colored clothes that allow air to pass through them.
Avoid eating hot or heavy meals before going out, it will add heat to the body.
Limit sun exposure: Always wear sunscreen (I favor the oil-free Coppertone as I find it allows my skin to breathe better when exercising). Given the opportunity try to find areas to exercise that provide some natural cover from the sun, like tree-covered paths. Sunburn also decreases your ability to cool yourself so other than the obvious negatives to getting sunburn, it’s not good for your hydration either if you get over-exposed to the sun.
Use your noggin: You will know when it’s too much, so don’t plod on just because you set the time aside and put your shoes on. If you are out and about and get too hot, mosey on home in a relaxed manner (if you can’t find a cool place to chill out first!).
If you find yourself with any symptoms of heat stroke, go straight to the doctor. It is very dangerous