Man, it’s been a hot summer so far.  The heat is everywhere—cities that normally don’t get very warm in the summer have experienced temperatures in the triple digits.  Don’t let the heat be an excuse to skip your workout. Understanding how your body reacts to extra warm temperatures is important–and it could save your life.

When you exercise in the heat, your body has to work a lot harder.  Your heart and lungs work double duty to keep your body in check.  Your heart rate increases as your body tries to dissipate the heat.  And if it’s humid, your body works even harder which can cause your internal body temperature to skyrocket.

The most important thing to remember is to THINK and use good judgment.  Everyone handles exposure to heat differently.  Just be sure not to stay outside for extended periods of time and stop exercising if you feel your body is having trouble cooling down.

Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Pulse is fast and weak

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and do everything you can to cool yourself down.  Drink cool fluids, go to an air-conditioned building, take a cold shower (if available) and get some rest.  If left untreated, heat exhaustion may lead to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency and is life-threatening.

Follow these tips to stay cool AND in shape this summer:

  • Drink a LOT of water!  You already know this so just do it.  Don’t let yourself get dehydrated and don’t wait until you feel thirsty to take a drink.
  • Go swimming.  It’s a great form of exercise, it’s fun and you’ll stay cool.  Don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • Exercise early in the morning or later in the day when it’s cooler.  I prefer the mornings because it’s a great to start your day.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes.  Choose fabrics that wick away sweat and change out of sweaty clothes after you work out.
  • If you don’t have any issues with water retention or blood pressure, don’t be afraid to put a little salt on your food. When you’re sweating a lot, you may need a little extra sodium.
  • If it’s really hot outside, choose an indoor activity.  Take a group exercise class, lift weights at your local gym, or move to your favorite exercise video.
  • ALWAYS pay attention to how you feel.  Listen to your body.

Staying fit in the summer is easy, but you have to be smart about it.  Enjoy the beautiful hot days but make sure you stay cool while exercising.