Summer is just around the corner! The warmer weather can boost motivation for a consistent exercise routine. It’s the perfect time of year for a variety of outdoor activities. There are still some safety precautions to keep in mind. Use the tips below to keep your outdoor exercise safe and enjoyable.
Safety is key when exercising outside. Choosing to exercise in daylight hours and paying attention to traffic will keep you alert on the road. If you’re in a rural or park setting, consider exercising with a buddy or letting someone know where you are ahead of time and when you plan to return. It’s a good practice to bring both your ID, a little cash, and your charged phone with you for any of those “just in case” scenarios. Also, don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses. Even on a cloudy day, you can still get a sunburn. Finally, a good pair of supportive gym shoes will help to limit injuries while you’re out and about.
Check the Weather
One thing we cannot control is the weather! Summertime weather is known to change in an instant, so be prepared by checking the weather ahead of time and having a plan should you need to take shelter quickly. Keep an eye on the temperature and humidity while being active outside. Hotter, humid days could require more frequent rest breaks and extra hydration. If you’re planning to enjoy water activities such as kayaking or paddle boarding, don’t forget to check on the wind speed. Extra windy days could make for a choppy and treacherous excursion. Regardless of the activity, remember to keep an eye on the sky and have a backup plan in case you can’t make it back home in a hurry.
Beat the Heat
Beat the heat during exercise. Dress cool by wearing light and loose-fitting clothing. Choose to exercise in the morning or evening when the sun is lower in the sky. You can even choose to exercise in areas with more shade for an added break from the sun. Most importantly, stay hydrated before, during, and after your exercise! Sweating is our body’s natural way of cooling down, but when we’re dehydrated, that can slow down and limit sweating. If you’re participating in vigorous exercise, consider hydrating with a sports drink that can help replenish nutrients lost through sweating, such as sodium, potassium, and chloride. Always plan to bring enough water that will last your entire outing and take breaks frequently.
Know the Warning Signs
During your exercise on hot, humid days, it is important to keep an eye out for warning signs of heat-related illness. According to the Mayo Clinic, these can include muscle cramps, nausea, weakness, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and even vision problems. If you experience any of these while exercising, you should stop immediately, rest in a place out of the heat, and drink cool water or a sports drink. Seek medical help right away if warning signs persist or worsen.
A little awareness and planning can go a long way to keep your summertime activities in the great outdoors enjoyable!
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Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP