Summer months come with a refreshed attitude to head outdoors to enjoy the weather.
But if it’s been a while since you’ve picked up a jump rope or dusted off your running shoes, there are a few things to keep in mind before taking on the heat. For one thing, it’s a challenge to do any physical activity during the hot summer months, and even more so if you haven’t been physically active in several years.
The first thing to consider when doing outdoor physical activity is the time of day. We know that the cooler temperatures are earlier in the morning and later in the evening, so it may be best to start your activity during these times. Pay attention to the weather and heed all heat advisories.
The next thing that is so important is to stay hydrated! Keep a large bottle of cold water nearby and sip it slowly and frequently. This will help keep you hydrated while keeping you cool. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to your urine color both before and after activity. Ideally, your urine should resemble a glass of diluted lemonade. If it looks like dark apple juice, it is time to increase your fluids.
To avoid injuries during activities, start out slow. The prime of summer is not the best time to train for your first triathlon or even play in your first-ever, day-long pickleball tournament. However, if you start small with something like a walking program it not only helps you acclimate to the weather, but it also helps to build your endurance and tolerance. If it starts to feel easier, then go ahead and add in some jogging intervals. Short intervals of low to higher intensity of any activity is the best way to gauge if your body is ready to be pushed harder.
Lastly, listen to your body. If you start to experience dizziness, light-headedness or an unusual amount of profuse sweating, then your body is telling you you’re taking on too much and your body’s cooling system is overheating. Get your body cooled down as soon as possible by heading indoors into the air conditioning, using a fan to get some air circulating around your body, dunking yourself in the pool or hosing yourself down. It is important to get your body’s thermostat back to a comfortable range.
Safely attacking the summer heat makes July and August more enjoyable and tolerable. So, grab your sunscreen, your water bottles, your ice towels and head outside!
About the Author Mylene Ray, MHS, ATC, is the Sports Medicine Outreach Coordinator and an athletic trainer at Freeman Rehabilitation & Sports Center. Click here to learn more about Freeman Rehabilitation & Sports Center.