Beat the heat -- keep cool while working out in high temps
June 2, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Just because the weather is hotter doesn’t mean working out has to stop, according to Lyster Army Health Clinic officials and Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Facility staff.
Those who enjoy running or other outdoor activities need to take some basic precautions while enjoying the sunny days of summer to avoid things like heat exhaustion and dehydration, which can lead to heatstroke, said Maj. Laura Ricardo, Lyster Preventative Medicine chief.
“It’s not just about continuously drinking fluids like the sports drinks, it’s about eating properly, too,” she said. “A lot of people are attracted to the sports drinks because they have electrolytes in them, but people should be eating small, continuous meals. The cells are ready to absorb the (fluids) and it keeps them hydrated.”
Ricardo continued by saying that power drinks and power bars are not good substitutes for more natural foods and fluids like fruits and water.
“More and more studies are finding that those drinks and power bars are not going to help hydrate you,” she said. “The drinks typically have a lot of caffeine in them and that’s a natural diuretic, so it’s actually pushing more water out.”
Ricardo recommended items like fresh fruits or even trail mixes with dried fruit and peanuts for natural sugars and salts.
Using sunscreen is also essential if planning to workout outdoors, she added. Those planning to workout outside should use a sunscreen with at least a 30 sun protection factor rating.
Lynn Avila, Fortenberry-Colton fitness specialist, said it’s also important to drink lots of fluids, regardless of the type of workout involved.
“Now that the hotter weather is here, more people are taking up swimming as a form of exercise,” she said. “Just because you’re in the water, doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated.”
Dressing properly, rather than fashionably, is another way to stay safe while in a warm, humid climate, she added.
“You should stay away from black pants or black shirts, because it absorbs light and heat,” she said. “People should also watch the amount of time they spend out in the heat.”
Avila suggested those who choose to be outside should only work out for 30 minutes to an hour. Those people should also make sure to keep water close to them.
She added that there’s no reason to change up the types of workouts being done, but making sure to limit the amount of time doing more intense workouts is a good idea.
Avila also said people should use the buddy system when working out outside.
“Always let somebody know where you’re going,” she said. “It’s a good idea to workout in pairs to avoid potential problems. People should also watch for more wildlife being active during the summer months, especially around the lakes and running trails.”