Summer Heat and Exercise Safety

People from Phoenix are more than aware of how our summers are hot.  With temperatures greater than 110 degrees, it’s no wonder we are known as “The Valley of the Sun.”  Despite the hot temperatures, our Valley is full of opportunities to be active indoors and outdoors.  All of us, without a doubt, should take full advantage.

Most people are highly active during the winter months.  Far less are active during the summer.  A legitimate complaint is that it is too hot and not safe to exercise during the summer.  Exercise in the heat can cause serious physical complications such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

But, it is not beneficial to ignore exercise all together during the summer months in Arizona.  While heat may discourage people from exercising, there are still ways to be safe and effective to endure the summer heat.     

Here are a few suggestions while exercising in extreme temperatures:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
    • Important to hydrate before, during and after a workout.
    • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
  • Exercise smarter, not harder
    • Work out during the cooler parts of the day (evening and morning).
    • Decrease the intensity during extreme dry or humid weather.
  • Ease in to the summer heat
    • As with anything, jump into it slowly.
    • Expose yourself to the heat slowly without prolong time in the heat.
  • Dress the part
    • Wearing lightweight and light colored clothing will decrease the amount of heat built up.
    • Wear fewer clothing as to allow for sweat to evaporate into the atmosphere.
  • Workout with someone
    • Team up with a friend if possible.
    • It can be safer and more fun.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat related illness is also beneficial.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the two most common illnesses when exercising in the heat.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Headaches
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, moist skin, chills
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Warm, dry skin with no sweating
  • Strong and rapid pulse
  • Confusion and/or unconsciousness
  • High fever
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

Take the steps to keep the individual cool and seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you are exercising with experiences these symptoms.

Exercising in the summer heat of Arizona can be fun, exciting and a challenge; however, it can also be dangerous if the proper steps are not taken.   Just because it gets hot outside does not mean that you should postpone exercise for cooler weather.  Summer months are not an excuse to vacation from exercise.  They are an opportunity to exercise creatively and think outside the box.  Most importantly, be prepared, be safe, and have fun!