With summer temperatures rising, the risk of heat illness also increases. Here are a few tips to so you can enjoy physical activity and exercise as well as to reduce the risk of heat illness:
1. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate! Drink half of your body weight in water in ounces (i.e. a 160 lb person should drink 80oz) per day. You need to drink more if you are exercising and even more if you are exercising in heat!
2. Consume plenty of electrolytes to replenish the ones you lose. Electrolytes can be found in Smart Water, Pedialyte (we love that here at FQ10), or any sports drink (Vitamin Water, Gatorade, PowerAde, etc). Be aware of how much sugar you are consuming with the sports drinks though; it can sneak up on you. The key nutrients you want to consume for electrolytes are: sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
3. Gradually increase the of intensity and duration of your workout. The more you are gradual and methodical about your exercise, the better prepared your body will be for the workout. Additionally, following this step helps prevent injury and illness.
4. Take adequate amounts of breaks during your activity. Resting and proper sleeping habits decrease your risks of illness and injury.
5. Avoid working out during peak sun hours. If possible, exercise during the early morning or late evening when the sun is not as bright and the weather is cooler.
6. Do not participate in intense exercise if you show signs of illness. That illness, however small, may decrease your body’s tolerance and prevent you from full recovery. You can exercise if you feel okay, just be aware of your limitations and back off on intensity if needed.
How can you tell if you are dehydrated or at a higher risk for heat illness? The easiest way is to check your urine. Darker color urine is a quick indicator of dehydration. Your urine should look more like lemonade than apple juice and it should become lighter and lighter as the day goes on. A good goal would be to have almost clear-to-clear urine by the end of the day. Don’t let the heat keep you from working out! Beat it with hydration and awareness. Stay hydrated my friends!
Cara Regas Haughey is an ATC and personal trainer at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA. She specializes in keeping female athletes injury free, and develops programs and injury free workouts for both athletes and non-athletes. You can visit Cara’s blog about keeping athletes healthy at injuryfreefemaleathletes.wordpress.com.