Be mindful of the sun and heat when you are active outdoors

Be mindful of the sun and heat when you are active outdoors

  • Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors.

    Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors. Stock Photos

  • Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors.

    Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors.

  • Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors.

    Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors.

  • Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors.

    Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors.

 
By Erik J. Martin
Content That Works
Posted7/3/2022 7:00 AM

It's easy to get carried away on a warm day when the bright sunshine practically begs you to frolic outdoors, colorful summer foliage delights the senses and happy neighbors and passersby on the street lighten your mood. Whether you are walking the dog, rollerblading down the lane, jogging off some extra pounds, or biking through the park, before long the sun, heat, and/or humidity can wear you down and cause serious side effects if you are not careful.

"Excessive sun, dehydration and heatstroke are all real health issues you need to be mindful of when being active outdoors in warmer months, as they can result in serious threats to your overall health and well-being," says Gail Levy, CEO of HFactor, a hydrogen-infused water product. "Every person is different; it can take a few minutes for you to feel the effects while others can manage the heat for a longer period."

 

Dr. Jay Woody, chief medical officer of Intuitive Health in Plano, Texas, says heat stress can happen quicker than you think.

"The body will start feeling hot after exposure to warm temperatures for an extended length of time. Minor symptoms can include heat rashes or sunburns. Most people can avoid these by limiting their exposure to the sun and wearing sunscreen to prevent the skin from absorbing ultraviolet rays," Woody says. "But as exposure to the heat continues, individuals may experience heat cramps, including heavy sweating, muscle pain or spasm. That's when heat exhaustion can begin to set in. The symptoms can include clammy or cold skin, a weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, tiredness, weakness or dizziness, headaches or fainting."

Left unchecked, this condition can rapidly develop into heatstroke; that's when your body temperature can exceed 104 degrees and confusion sets in, along with excessive sweating; extremely hot, red and dry skin; and possibly loss of consciousness, Woody cautions.

Your first defense against these threats is to stay hydrated.

"Set goals to drink water consistently throughout the day. Aim to consume eight glasses of water from 8-ounce cups, although some individuals may require more or less intake of water to retain body fluids. Pedialyte or Gatorade can help with hydration and rehydration, too," Woody says. "Refrain from beverages containing alcohol or caffeine, especially on hot days where you will be outside."

Julien Raby, a certified fitness trainer and gym owner in Montreal, recommends avoiding outdoor exercise and activities during peak solar hours.

"Try to avoid direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Schedule outdoor activities during the most tolerable parts of the day, such as an early morning or after sunset, if possible," Raby advises. "If you must go out in the heat, use sunscreen, wear a hat and seek shade whenever feasible. Also, remember to bring a water bottle with you. And exercise with caution -- intense exertion during the summer months can cause your body temperature to rise, resulting in heat exhaustion or heat stroke."

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When it comes to applying sunscreen, remember it can help prevent sunburn but it may break down with sun and sweat exposure over time, especially if you go swimming, says Dawn Gulick, a professor of physical therapy at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.

"Most sunscreens don't last more than two hours without repeated application," Gulick says.

Note also that if you are engaged in a fitness activity outside in humid weather, your sweat won't evaporate as quickly -- causing a rise in body temperature -- so be mindful of humidity levels, too.

Levy recommends other best practices to protect yourself al fresco:

• Use an app on your smartphone to remind you when to drink water.

• Eat foods with high water content, such as tomatoes, watermelon, iceberg lettuce, celery, cucumbers and zucchini.

• Take breaks when exercising to prevent more fluid loss.

• Wear sunglasses and a wide-brim hat to protect your face.

• Don lightweight, light-colored, moisture-wicking and loose clothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Move your workout indoors, inside an air-conditioned building or home.

• Stop exercising when you feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseous.

Lastly, seek medical care immediately if you suffer any concerning side effects.

"A medical professional can help lower your body temperature with consistent treatment, assess for any organ damage and administer the proper care to reduce symptoms and help with heat exhaustion recovery," Woody says.

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