The first day of summer has come and gone and now we’re on the brink of a fast-approaching heat wave. But for health enthusiasts, intense heat doesn’t put a damper on their fitness routines as they eagerly seek new ways to adapt their outdoor routines to warmer weather.
There are many risks involved with intense heat, including sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion, just to name a few. So before diving in head first, it’s important to consider how to be proactive about safety to ensure we’re protected whether we’re out for a 10-mile run or just a leisurely stroll.
To get some insight on the subject, we called on DietsInReview.com’s own running expert Lacy Hansen. Lacy seems to be outdoors more often than in as she clocks close to 30-40 miles on any given week. Needless to say, she knows a thing or two about running safely outdoors.
Do protect yourself from the sun. First off, Lacy says that no matter the season she always wears sunscreen and sunglasses, which is why she has ‘raccoon eyes’ all year-round. But joking aside, protecting your skin and eyes from the sun is extremely important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. We generally recommend at least an SPF 50 for adequate skin protection.
Do dress the part. Lacy never wears cotton and instead opts for a dri-fit material, because it pulls the sweat away from her body so she can stay drier and avoid chafing. This becomes especially important in the summer months when every little effort to stay cooler helps.
Don’t get dehydrated. If she’s on her bike, Lacy makes certain to have enough water bottles and/or planned refill stations along her route. And while she never runs with a water bottle or a fuel belt, she never takes off without a plan. “On long runs, the hydration is planned. I often run with a group and we’ll take turns dropping water and gatorade at planned locations,” she said. “If I’m on a shorter run, I make certain I know where I can get water: park fountains and fire stations are my go-to stops.”
Do drink more than just water. One thing that took Lacy a long time to master was accepting the fact that on especially hot summer days, water is sometimes not enough. In fact, she’s spent many times ill from a lack of properly replenishing her body. So on those particularly hot days, she sees drinking a sports drink such as Powerade Zero as an absolute must. This is because when your body is losing all that sweat, water simply doesn’t rehydrate our bodies adequately.
Don’t ignore warning signs. Even if you’ve done most done everything right, sometimes your body just can’t take the heat. And in times like these, it’s crucial to know the early signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion. “When my lips start sticking or even cling to my teeth, I know I’m getting close to trouble,” says Lacy. Other common signs of heat exhaustion include flushed skin, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, nausea and extremely high body temperatures. “In the summer, you have to get over your pride,” she said. “If it’s too hot, you may have to take a break, go slower, or even cut the workout short. The danger of heat exhaustion dehydration is very, very serious.”
So while memories of cold winters may drive us outside to soak up the summer sun, being wise about working out outdoors is crucial. Because going out without a safety plan is the fastest way to put ourselves at serious risk for injury.
June 22nd, 2012