It is officially summer and the days of high temperatures have just begun! Many people take these sunny days as opportunities to enjoy nature, go for walks, jogs, or just simply lay on the beach. While basking in the sun can be a very enjoyable experience, it can also cause physical harm, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, so here are some tips on preventing, and protecting against, sun and heat related illness.
Be aware of the weather forecast. Keeping an eye on the predicted temperatures can help you make educated decisions on your exercise choice for the day. Both exercise and high temperatures can raise your core body temperature. While sweating is your body’s way of keeping cool, in high humidity perspiration doesn’t evaporate as quickly from the surface of your skin, making it more difficult to cool down and subsequently raising your heart rate. If the forecast shows high humidity, it would be smart to scale back on the workout, or switch it to a day that is less humid.
Pick weather appropriate clothing. Sun protection begins when you wake up and get dressed. Light colored and sweat-wicking clothing helps keep you cool in hot weather, whereas dark, heavy clothes can make you even hotter.
Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach! Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading out on those particularly sunny days to protect against sunburn, which can decrease your body’s ability to self-cool. Opt for water-resistant sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 for the best results.
Replenish, replenish, replenish. Hydration is essential all year round, but it is particularly important during the summer months when you can be losing water through perspiration, perhaps without you realizing! You can easily lose a few pounds of water weight while sweating. Fortunately, you can replenish this loss through drinking more water. One tip is to weigh your self before and after workouts, replacing each pound lost with 3 cups of water.
Sometimes it’s too late for prevention, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which are caused by exposure to high temperatures and dehydration. Signs of heat exhaustion include, but are not limited to: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache and cool, moist skin. If untreated, heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke, a more serious heat-related illness. With heat stroke, look for the following symptoms: dry, hot skin without sweating, confusion, a body temperature of above 105*F, rapid and weak pulse, seizures and unconsciousness.
Hopefully this information will help to prevent heat related illness. Just remember, making smart choices with high temperatures will help make a more enjoyable summer experience!