Writer / Dr. Ann Hulme, Sports Medicine Physiatrist at IU Health North Hospital
Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. As temperatures increase, it’s important to take proper safety precautions when exercising outside in the summer heat and humidity.
Drink plenty of water.
Between the summer heat and exercising, your body loses a lot of its water through sweat and breathing. Ensure you drink enough water every day, by always having a water bottle with you or setting alarms to remind yourself to drink a glass of water. It’s also important to drink water before, during and after exercise. Try limiting your alcohol and caffeine consumption, as these can increase your risk of dehydration.
Start with lower intensity workouts.
Lower intensity workouts such as walking, riding a bike wearing a helmet and Tai Chi are great ways to add movement to your summer days. These activities are easy on your body and are great social activities to participate in with family and friends. Remember to take breaks to cool off when exercising for a long time.
Exercise in the shade or indoors.
When the outdoor temperature is above 80◦F and humidity is greater than 75%, the risk of heat illness is high. It may be better to exercise indoors. If you’re going to exercise outside, try and find a shady cool spot and exercise during the early morning or late evening when it might be cooler.
Choose your clothes carefully.
When exercising during the summer, you can reduce your risk of overheating by wearing moisture-wicking, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Try to wear light-colored clothes as these absorb less heat than dark-colored clothes do.
Know the warning signs.
Heat-related illness can range in severity from heat cramps to heat strokes. Warning signs include higher than normal heart rate, cramps, dizziness, and nausea. If you experience any of these signs, quickly move yourself to a shaded or air-conditioned area, sit down, elevate your legs and drink cold water. If you or someone with you develops signs of heatstroke, such as confusion, lack of sweating, persistent vomiting or loss of consciousness, start cooling them off and call 911 immediately.
If you do injure yourself while exercising, especially if you notice the pain has not gone away and is impacting your everyday activities, contact your doctor. Dr. Hulme is currently accepting new patients. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 317.948.0200.