Maya Mohan, Department of Public Health
Maya is the Physical Activity Coordinator for DPH and is trying to keep her cool this summer!
As the frizzy mess of hair on my head will tell you, it’s H-O-T and humid out! I’ll say from personal experience: do NOT take this heat and humidity lightly – especially when you’re being active. I went for a 7 mile run with a friend a couple of weeks ago, right smack in the middle of the day (it was around 1:30pm) when the temperature was about 90 degrees. Neither of us had water with us, and it was the first time that I was trying to run that long of a distance outdoors (yes, that’s long for me! But, that’s a topic for another post!) Anyway, we did just about everything you should not do when working out in high heat and humidity. Needless to say, I got pretty sick afterwards and swore that I would never be that dumb again! So, I would like to share a few tips with you about staying active in this heat so that no one else has to experience what I foolishly put myself through:
- Take it easy! If you’re not used to being active outdoors, go slow! Try warming your body up for a longer period of time so that your body has time to properly adjust to the temperature outside.
- Wear sunscreen. And a hat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. And I don’t mean the medium iced coffee I had right before my run. I’m talking about good old water. Also, don’t wait until you feel thirsty – drink water before, during and after being active. In fact, bring a water bottle with you while you workout. My friend and I were lucky that there were water fountains along the Charles River, but it would’ve been much smarter if we had brought water bottles with us. If you’re going to be active for a long period of time (over an hour), consider sports drinks as well – they can quickly replace electrolytes that are lost during strenuous or vigorous activity.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Think light colors, light weight, loose fitting. Unlike me… I wore black stretch pants.
- Avoid working out during peak heat. The hottest time of the day is typically between 10am – 4pm so try to workout before or after that window. Again, unlike me. (Seriously, what was I thinking?!).
- Listen to your body. If you feel weak, dizzy, nauseous, have a rapid heartbeat or headache – call it quits! These could be signs of heat-related illness. Stop exercising, get out of the heat. Drink water, wet your skin down. If you don’t feel better after an hour or so, call your health care provider. If you become faint or confused, get medical help immediately.
Don’t make the mistakes I made! Take these simple precautions and enjoy working out in this beautiful summer weather. Do you have tips on how to stay safe when working out this summer? We’d love to hear them.
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