Summer is a great time for being active. Even if you live where it gets hot or humid, there are ways you can stay in shape year-round. But make sure to take precautions when you are active outside.
Be safe in the heat
If the temperature is lower than 80°F (27°C), you usually can be active outside without taking extra precautions. It depends on how active you already are and how used to hot weather you are.
But anytime you exercise, it's a good idea to take these normal precautions:
When the temperature gets above 80°F (27°C), consider the heat and the humidity. Both can put you at risk for heat-related illness. The hotter or more humid it is, the higher your risk. For example, if the humidity is 60% (moderate):
When it is more humid, you should be careful at even lower temperatures. Higher humidity can make it feel hotter, since your body cannot cool off as well by sweating. This puts you at a greater risk for illness. For more information, see the website www.nws.noaa.gov and search for "heat index."
Older adults and children are at a higher risk for heat-related illness and should be extra cautious. Remind children to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after activity.
If you are overweight, have health problems, take medicines, or use alcohol, you may be at a higher risk for heat-related illness. You may also have trouble if you're not used to exercising in warmer weather.
In hot weather, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after activity. Water or sports drinks are best. This helps to prevent dehydration and heat-related illness. Water is all you need if you are exercising for less than an hour. For longer exercise periods, sports drinks contain carbohydrate and minerals called electrolytes that may help your endurance and keep you from getting muscle cramps.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you have stopped sweating or have other signs of heatstroke, such as a fast heart rate, passing out, high body temperature, feeling confused, or having no energy. Heatstroke is very dangerous.
When it's hot or humid, be active during the cooler times of day. Find shaded areas, like parks with big trees, and drink plenty of fluids. You have less chance of getting too hot if you do lighter exercise, like walking. Be sure to wear sunscreen.
Other Works Consulted
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2010). Heat: A Major Killer. Available online: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/index.shtml.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science|
|Last Revised||October 25, 2011|
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