Active-Steps-Working-Out-in-the-Heat

Active Steps: Working Out in the Heat

Summer is finally here and is a great time to be outside! However, with summer comes higher temperatures and humidity which can be dangerous if you are not careful. If you are someone who likes to exercise outside, follow these six tips to stay safe and healthy. (Important note: You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting or altering any fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs.)

Watch the humidity. New Orleans not only gets hot, but humid as well. Make sure to check the heat-index in addition to the actual temperature. When the humidity levels go over 65% it can prevent sweat evaporation, which is the body's way of keeping it cool. If there is high humidity or heat, consider slowing down your pace whether you are running, walking or doing any other type of physical activity.

Timing is important. Avoid working out in the hottest part of the day (between 10am and 4pm). Mornings tend to be the cooler, but if mornings are too busy, aim to work out after the sun has gone down.

Sun protection is essential. You can get sunburnt even when it is cloudy. Consider wearing a hat to keep the sun off your face and head, and use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and is sweat-proof. If possible, work out in shaded areas or run along trails that keep you out of direct sunlight. Shaded areas can be up to 10 degrees cooler than sunny areas!

Wear loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing. Lighter color clothing will help reflect the sun, and most running clothing is designed to wick away sweat.

Listen to your body. Every day is different. You may feel great one day, but the next day have a difficult time. Summer is not the time to push yourself. If you ever feel nauseous or faint, stop working out immediately. Make sure to build in rest days into your workout schedule, and consider working out indoors. The New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) offers a number of free indoor workout classes, like youth dance classes and adult line dancing at the Sanchez Multi-Purpose Center, or try one of the five free indoor fitness centers like at the Treme Recreation Community Center. (link: http://nordc.org/activities/fitness/ ).

Drink water. With the high humidity in New Orleans, your body will lose fluids quickly. Try to drink water before, every 15 minutes during, and after exercise – even if you are not thirsty. If you are going to be running or exercising for more than 60 minutes, make sure to bring nutrition with you such as energy chews or salt tablets. Check out this newsletter's Nutrition Bites article on hydration for more information.

By Mandy Hyde, Tulane PRC Graduate Student Assistant
Photo courtesy of CDC Public Health Image Library

(Active Steps is a recurring feature that appears regularly in the Tulane PRC’s e-newsletters and covers fitness and physical activity tips. If you have any suggestions for Active Steps topics, please contact Naomi Englar at nking2@tulane.edu or 504-988-7410.)

Topics:   physical activity , sidewalks , walking , running , biking , health communication

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