Safe Summer WorkoutsSafe Summer Workouts

By Dr. Mao Shing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., Ph.D, Dipl. C.H., ABAAP

Yes, of course, we can have great workouts in the summer but when we get really hot, our body routes blood away from our organs and muscles and circulates it through our skin. This increases the amount of cooling sweat we produce but at the same time, can seriously dehydrate us. When humidity is high, our sweat cannot evaporate properly so our core temperature rises even higher. Our bodies can actually fail when we are exposed to high levels of activity, at high temperatures and in high humidity for too long a period of time.

In extreme cases, we can have difficulty breathing or lose consciousness. To avoid heatstroke, exercise during the cooler hours of the day if at all possible. Always hydrate well before going outside and continue to drink fluids every 15 or 20 minutes during your workout. Cut back on your pace and the time you spend exercising, increase your rest periods and do not try to keep up with friends who are more fit than you. If you wear protective equipment, remove it during breaks to allow your head and body to cool.

Invest in light-weight, light-colored workout clothing that reflects sunlight and wicks away sweat. Use sunscreen and look for routes that are shady. Don a light-colored, ventilated hat or a visor and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and face.

Consider exercising indoors at a gym or add swimming to your summer workout regimen. Save your first-ever attempt at a challenging new sport for a cooler time of the year, and recognize that caffeine and alcohol can accelerate dehydration.

Common drugs can intensify the effects of heat-related illness so check with your health care provider for advice about exercising while taking decongestants, appetite suppressants, antihistamines, anti- hypertensives or antidepressants.

Use common sense. If you start feeling bad you need to stop immediately, rest, cool down and rehydrate. If you suspect someone might be suffering from heatstroke, call 911 because the risk of serious organ or brain damage, or even death, is a chance that just isnít worth taking.

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