Keep Your Cool When Working out Outdoors

August 5, 2020

Throughout the summer, many of us take to the outdoors to get fresh air and exercise while maintaining social-distancing rules. But as summer temperatures rise, so too does the danger of heat exhaustion when working out outdoors.

The Heat of the Moment

Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats. Common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Cold, pale and clammy skin
  • Body aches or muscle cramps
  • Tiredness/weakness
  • Dizziness/fainting
  • Heavy sweating
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting

The Safe Outdoors

When staying active outdoors this summer, remember these seven tips to stay safe:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids to maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Stay indoors during peak sun hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, schedule your outdoor activities in the early morning or evening.
  • Wear light-colored, lightweight and loose-fitting clothing. Dark, tight-fitting clothing traps heat, keeping your body from cooling properly.
  • Always use sunscreen. Sunburn can dehydrate you and keep your body from cooling down. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher 30 minutes before going out. Then reapply according to directions on the package. Products labeled “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB” work best.
  • Understand your individual risk. Certain medications (beta blockers, diuretics and antihistamines, for example) increase the risk of heat exhaustion. In addition, frequently check on those at highest risk for heat-related death, such as elderly, disabled or homebound people. Check on children and pets frequently, as they can’t always communicate when something is wrong.
  • Stay informed. Check local news for extreme-heat warnings. Avoid outdoor activities during these times.
  • Safely wear a mask. When wearing a mask outdoors in high temperatures, choose a breathable material, like light-colored cotton, for your face covering. Also have multiple face coverings on hand, in case your first becomes damp from sweat.

Turn It Down

If you experience any symptom of heat exhaustion, stop what you’re doing and move to a cooler place. If symptoms persist, it’s time to call your doctor. When not treated promptly, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition that happens when the core body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.