Exercising in beautiful sunny weather can be one of the most enjoyable experiences of the summer. However, with the increased temperatures come inherent dangers and the potential for varying heat injuries. That said, there are some very important things you need to remember while you exercise this summer.
The first and largest consideration of summer exercise is dehydration. Exercising in hot environments robs your body of fluids vital to its function. This happens due to increased levels of perspiration and its evaporation from the skin. The harder you exercise and the hotter it is, the more water your body loses. At the same time, exposing your body to the sun too much can dehydrate you even further. Dehydration can be a very serious event and should be treated immediately. Some signs that you are dehydrated include: increased thirst, weakness, dizziness, and sluggishness. The fix for this is simple, rest in the shade and sip water. Over time your body will absorb the necessary amount of fluids it needs to return to its normal level. Eating a small snack or granola bar can also aid the recovery process. Another overlooked aspect of exercising during the summer is the time of day in which you exercise. The sun is the warmest between 11:00am and 3:00pm. During this time the risk of dehydration and heat injury are significantly increased. When you can, avoid exercising during this time. However, if you absolutely cannot avoid it make sure you drink plenty of water and take periodic breaks to allow your body to recover.
There are many different types of heat injury ranging from simple dehydration to heat stroke. The effects of each very with the most severe outcome leading to serious brain trauma or death. Heat injuries should not be risked. However, aside from all of this, get out and have fun this summer. Enjoy an evening run or a hike to a mountain lake. Just remember to bring some sunscreen and always drink plenty of fluids.
Logan Gregg, CPT