Cool As A Summer’s Breeze: 5 Ways To Stay Cool While Exercising Outdoors During The Summer’s Months

By: Iesha King, MS, RCEP

 

The summer months can be a lot fun but they can also be brutal on our cardiopulmonary (cardiac + pulmonary) systems. The cardiopulmonary system plays an essential role in the temperature regulation of our bodies. Throughout exercise, muscular contractions are generated which increases the metabolic heat production. The metabolic heat which is produced stems from the active muscles and the heat is then transferred to our core, thus increasing our core metabolic temperature. Sweating is a result of the removal of heat from our bodies. When the secretions of sweat meet the atmosphere, evaporation takes place as a cooling mechanism for our bodies.  Sweating is essential to maintaining the core body temperature. Peripheral vasodilation occurs to help remove the heat from the core by expanding the vessels to allow for more blood to reach the skin. Peripheral vasodilation is helpful until it is paired with low blood volumes and low blood pressure. Through hot temperatures, improper fluid intake, peripheral vasodilation, one can venture into the dark place of dehydration.

 

5 Ways To Stay Cool While Exercising Outdoors

 

Dehydration or hypo-hydration is when 3 to 5% of body mass is lost. Heavy clothing, radiation rays, humidity, and temperature can impair the loss of heat removal from our bodies, leading to dehydration. The onset of dehydration then leads to an impaired exercise performance due the excess stress that is placed on the cardiopulmonary system. How can we combat dehydration? Below are 5 ways to beat the summer heat and maintain proper hydration.

 

 

1. Always Check the Heat Index and Humidity

If the humidity plus the temperature, in degree Fahrenheit, is greater than 150, then you should not exercise outdoors.  Move your exercise routine indoors.

Humidity + Temperature (°F) >150 = No exercise outdoors.

 

2.  Know the Warning Signs

Heat illness can range in the symptoms presented. Some common symptoms of heat illness are;

1.       Confusion.

2.       Dark-colored urine

3.       Dizziness.

4.       Fainting.

5.       Excessive Fatigue.

6.       Pale and/or clammy skin

7.       Headache.

8.       Debilitating cramps.

9.       Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Heat sensitivities are a common concern. Outdoor exercise from the hours of 10:00 to 4:00 PM are not encouraged. Exercise early in the morning or later in the evening to minimize heat related symptoms. If any of these symptoms are experienced, please seek help immediately.

 

3.  Hydration Rule

The determination of fluid loss is important. By measuring body weight before and after exercise can provide a fluid replacement guide. For each pound lost, active individuals should consume approximately 16 fluid ounces of water. Snacks during longer durations of exercise can also help to replenish the electrolyte and fluid balance.

Approximately 64 ounces of water should be consumed daily unless there are medical concerns present that limit fluid intake or otherwise advised by a physician. Approximately 20 ounces of water should be consumed after a full night’s rest.

 

 

4. Urination Test

An inexpensive way to test your hydration status is through an urination test. If your urine is a clear to light yellow (diluted lemonade color) then this indicates adequate hydration. Proper hydration is also indicated through the frequency of urination. Urinating every 2 hours also shows adequate hydration.  If the color is darker yellow to brown and or contains a smell, then this indicates a greater degree of dehydration. Thirst is also a sign of being partially dehydrated.

5. Sun safety

While exercising outdoors, wear light, breathable, and non-restrictive clothing. The use of sunscreen is also recommended to reduce the effects of UVA and UVB rays on our skin. SPF 15 is the minimum recommendation. Wearing 99 - 100% UVA/UBA sunglasses helps to minimize the harmful effect of radiation on the eyes. The lenses should be dark in color.

 

Let’s keep cool this summer and practice our hydration safety.

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