We are reaching the dog days of summer here in Indiana. It has been humid and hot the past few days with no signs of relief anytime soon. One of the best things about summer is working out outside. However, heat and humidity put extra stress on your body. Your body has natural processes to cool itself, but in extreme heat and humidity it can't always regulate your temperature as much as you need. Here are some tips on staying cool outdoors in what could be dangerous heat.
1. Get Acclimated - Your body does get used to certain conditions to a point. The more you workout in the heat, the better your body does at regulating it's temperature. So take it easy at first but after a few weeks you might not notice the heat and/or humidity as much. (Even if acclimated, when it is really hot and humid, it is not the time to increase the intensity of your workout.)
2. Stay Hydrated - Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout. Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink water. This will help your body sweat, which will help you stay cooler.
3. Wear Cool Clothes - Light weight and loose fitting clothing in light colors are best for these conditions. A hat or visor with a wide brim is also helpful. Plus, don't forget the sunscreen!
4. Go Early or Late - If possible, plan your workout for early in the morning or later in the evening instead of midday when it is hottest.
You do need to exercise caution (pun intended) when working out in the heat and humidity to prevent any heat related illnesses. If you develop confusion, irritability, headache, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, visual problems or fatigue, stop your workout and find cooler temperatures immediately. Drink lots of water, place cold washcloths on your forehead and neck or spray yourself down with a hose or sprinkler if you are still outside. If your body temperature is greater than 104 F, you may have heat stroke and should seek medical attention as soon as possible.