Now that the weather has warmed up and it's safer to venture outside, you might be raring to begin a new fitness routine. But before you do, be sure to consider the potential risks to your body. Working out too hard, too fast (especially if your muscles have been relatively dormant over the last few months) can lead to injury.
On top of that, exercising in the blistering summer heat can be dangerous because humidity and high temperatures make it harder for your body to regulate itself. Extreme summer weather can suppress your body's ability to stay cool naturally through sweat, especially if you're not drinking enough water. The result? Dehydration, poorer performance, and even dangerous illness.
Signs of heat-related illness and exercise overexertion include:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Dizziness or headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or loss of consciousness (passing out)
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain, spasms, or gastrointestinal distress
If you notice any of these symptoms, stop exercising and go to your nearest CityMD to get checked.
Get in shape and stay safe this summer by monitoring weather conditions and following these tips:
1. Pace yourself.
Resist the urge to dive straight into long, intense workouts. Practice "heat acclimation," or building up the intensity and duration of exercise gradually. Don't beat yourself up if you don't perform as well on hot and humid days. That's normal and to be expected.
2. Listen to your body.
If you feel fatigued when not exercising, that's likely a sign you're exercising too much and need more rest. Take a few days off and catch up on sleep. See your primary care physician if you have other symptoms.
3. Opt for H2O.
Proper hydration is the best and easiest way to ward off heat-related illness and overexertion. Water is just as good, if not better, than expensive, sugary energy drinks. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink. Consume at least eight ounces of water 15 minutes before exercising and every 20 minutes spent working out. Keeping ice on hand is another way to cool your body quickly
If you're intent on jumping back into your fitness regimen this summer, don't push yourself to the point of exhaustion. Ease into exercising outdoors and don't sacrifice your health.
As a board-certified Physician in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Frank Illuzzi has served in many clinical, academic, and leadership roles. Most recently, he served as the Chair of Emergency Medicine at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Connecticut. Dr. Illuzzi also holds an academic appointment as Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Frank Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. Among his many achievements, Dr. Illuzzi was a finalist for the Magida Award for “Outstanding Young Physician of the Year.” He has published many articles and textbook chapters in his areas of academic interest, and is a sought after lecturer for national medical conferences.