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Summer heat and humidity along with the strong rays of sun have made a return.  Couple this with the fact that we all continue to telecommute, the outdoors has become a common part of our exercise routines. Whether you’re stepping outside to enjoy the wider space for exercise or to vary your family time with walks and bike rides, it’s smart to keep in mind some tips for staying safe and healthy in the heat.

Wear the Right Clothing: High temperatures call for light and loose-fitting clothing. Be sure to choose lighter colors of clothing too since they help reflect the sun. Wearing a lightweight, tech material hat with moisture wicking can help you stay cooler and should have built in SPF protection.

Consider the Time of Day: During the summer months, the sun is at its strongest and hottest between 10 am and 3 pm. Try to plan your activities either in the morning or evening hours, as you will find some relief from the heat.

Apply Sunscreen: Many dermatologists recommend a sunscreen over SPF-30. Be sure to re-apply throughout the day if you plan to be outside for an extended period. Even on cloudy days you can get sunburned, so don’t forget to apply thoroughly on all exposed skin.

Seek Shady Places: Exercise in areas that provide shade, under a tree, in a park pavilion, or under an umbrella. If running or biking on a trail, try to find one with a good bit of shade, or map out areas of the trail with the most shade.

Start Slow: Your body may need several days to adapt to the hot temperatures so don’t push yourself too hard. Listen to your body and take breaks as needed.

Stay Hydrated: If planning to head outside for activities, be sure to hydrate before, during, and after. Keep a water bottle handy during a workout or activity. If driving to a park or trail, keep a thermos of water in the car or a cooler of extra water for when you return from exercise. Drink even when you may not feel thirsty! Early signs of dehydration include: thirst, dry or sticky mouth, dry cool skin, headache, muscle cramps, little or light colored urine. If you experience dehydration, heat cramps or heat exhaustion, stop exercising, find shade or go indoors, apply cool wet cloths, and sip water. Seek medical attention if your symptoms don’t improve.

Check with Your Doctor: The American Heart Association advises people to check with their healthcare professional before moving your workout outdoors if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, other chronic disease or any medical concerns. 

By taking a few precautions, you can enjoy nature and get more fit in the great outdoors!

By Mike McCool, HealthEase fitness professional