Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beat the Heat with Indoor Exercise

The calendar says it is officially summer, but Floridians do not need a calendar to remind us that summer has arrived. We are accustomed to dealing with the extreme temperatures, but I thought this would be a great opportunity to go over some of the basic ways to deal with the heat during exercise. It is also a great time to point out some of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Each year brings new residents to our climate and that first Florida summer can be quite intense. I remember that in my first summer back in 1993, I took both of my girls to play “putt-putt” one day. I told my daughters, “This is a great time to play. Look, we have the whole place to ourselves and it is the middle of the day.” We soon discovered why we had the course to ourselves: playing putt-putt golf at high noon in June is not a good move.

High-noon outdoor activities in Florida’s heat are not a good choice, though that is a great time to take your workout inside. Running on the treadmill or cycling on the bike are great substitutes for running and biking in the heat. The elliptical machine offers an excellent cardio workout and you are safe from the searing sun.

For those who choose to remain outdoors here are a few tips:
· Drink plenty of water – if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. You need to drink before you feel the need to.
· Water is still the best beverage.
· Wear loose clothes of light colors.
· Wear “breathable” fabrics such as cotton.
· Look for special clothing that is designed to “wick the sweat” away. You can find these at sporting goods stores.
· Wear sunscreen on all exposed skin.

Signs of heat exhaustion include: general fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps or an increase in body temperature.

Signs of Heat Stroke include: your body stops producing sweat, loss of consciousness or acute respiratory distress.

The best advice is to use common sense and avoid the hottest times of the day. The sun is at its hottest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Still want to exercise then? Beat the heat by stopping at one of our health and fitness centers.

--Jane Reynolds
Certified personal trainer, health and fitness instructor
Martin Memorial Hospital South Health and Fitness Center

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