Exercising outside in the summer can often feel uncomfortable because of the heat and humidity. If you are planning to exercise outside, it’s important to take precautions before, during and after exercise to avoid heat-related illnesses and injury.

“Exercising outside in the summer requires an acclimatization period. You should gradually introduce yourself to activity outside by starting with smaller time durations and intensities,” says Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation athletic trainer, Gabrielle Haubenstricker, MBA, ATC, LAT. “As your body adapts, you can increase these variables.”

Tips for outdoor exercise

In addition to acclimation, we recommend following these tips to prevent heat-related illnesses and injury: 

  • Warm up – You should start all exercise with a warm-up to prevent injury.
  • Consider the time – Avoid exercising in the afternoon hours when outside temperatures are higher. Try exercising in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
  • Stay hydrated – It’s important to hydrate before you exercise outside. Drinking fluids prior to your workout will help lower your body temperature and will replace the fluids you will lose when sweating.
  • Slow down – Don’t push yourself too hard. Try taking breaks or going at a slower pace.

Symptoms of a heat-related illness

“If you’re planning on exercising outdoors don’t rely solely on the temperature, make sure you’re aware of the heat index, which is a combination of the temperature and the relative humidity,” Gaby shares. As you exercise outside, it’s important to recognize symptoms of heat-related illness. These can include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual problems

If you experience any of the above symptoms while exercising in the heat, stop immediately. It’s critical to immediately take steps such as drinking water or seeking shade to lower your body temperature and hydrate.

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