Intermountain Healthcare LiVe Well exercise physiologist gives advice as the temperature starts to climb.
St. George, UT (PRUnderground) July 1st, 2022
As the thermostat starts to climb — in some areas settling regularly into triple-digit temperatures — it can make sticking to your outdoor exercise routine far less appealing. Still, just because the temperature is up, that’s no reason to shift into sedentary summer mode. It is, however, every reason to adjust your routine as needed, and to take the proper precautions so you can exercise and stay safe.
Whether you’re used to exercising outdoors, or if you’re just starting off, Quinn Butler, an exercise physiologist at the Intermountain Healthcare LiVe Well Center in St. George, said it is best to ease yourself into the summer months, giving your body 10-14 days to adjust.
“There are things happening at a cellular level that need to adjust in order for your performance to be a success,” Butler said.
Even top performing athletes may notice a dip in the intensity at which they are able to perform as the temperatures increase, Butler said.
And it’s a reality that plays an even bigger role for people who are just starting an exercise routine.
“Know your fitness level,” Butler said. “If you’re brand new to exercise, be mindful of that and adjust the intensity as needed, regardless of your fitness status.”
But the warnings about heat should not serve as a reason to avoid exercise during the summer months. Butler outlined several guidelines that, when followed, should allow for safe, successful summer workouts.
- Watch the temperature. Be mindful of any advisories for heat or air quality and make the necessary adjustments.
- Allow the body to acclimate to the heat for 10-14 days, adjusting the intensity during that time.
- Know your fitness level. Don’t be afraid to ease into a new, more active lifestyle.
- Take more breaks as needed. Find a shady spot and allow the body to cool down.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink a few hours prior to exercise and check your body weight before and after exercise to see how much is being lost through sweating. If it is more than 2 percent, consider incorporating a specific hydration plan.
- Avoid midday sun. Commit to exercising in the morning or evening when temperatures are lower. Or find a shady spot or workout in a pool.
- Always wear sunscreen. Sunburn decreases the body’s ability to cool itself and increases risk of skin cancer.
- Dress appropriately in light weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, preferably with moisture wicking. If possible, a light-colored wide brim hat is helpful.
- Have a backup plan. If the weather isn’t working in your favor — or if evening temperatures are not cooling as much as you planned, stay indoors. Go to a gym, do laps in a mall or store, find an air-conditioned set of stairs to climb.
- Understand your medical risks and consult with a doctor before doing any exercise outdoors. Certain medications and conditions may be exacerbated by the heat, so discuss the plan with your physician.
Overall, Butler said the key is to remain active no matter the time of year.
“Summer is a long time,” Butler said. “You don’t want to just sit around, so it’s important to find easy, safe, accessible avenues that will help you keep moving.”
For more tips on staying safe and health, see the IntermountainLiVeWell.org.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Based in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,800 employed physicians and advanced practice providers, a health plans division with more than one million members called SelectHealth, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information, see Intermountain Healthcare.