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The Dos &Don’ts of Exercising Outdoors in a Heatwave

There is no formal, standardized definition of a heat wave*, but we all feel the heat where we are this summer. Day after day of abnormally high temperatures. Scorching temperatures and high humidity — especially together — can pose serious health risks. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 600 people die each year in the U.S. due to extreme heat, often from heatstroke, which occurs when the body’s temperature reaches 104° F or higher. 

So, you put your outdoor workout on hold? For how long? If you decide to exercise outside during these “dog days of summer” be safe about it. Check out the solid advice in this Harper’s Bazar article, highlighted here. 

It’s always a good idea to exercise first thing in the morning. It sets you up for the day and leaves you feeling energized, so it’s a win-win. It’s doubly a good idea during a heat wave.  It’s far cooler at dawn than it is at sunset, with higher levels of humidity towards the end of the day too. An early morning workout is therefore always a better option in the hot weather.  

And be prepared to change up your workout. Swap your long run for interval training or circuits. This allows you more rest so your body can cool down and you can take on extra water. If possible, try to work out in shaded areas, which will offer you more protection from the sun and take the edge off the heat and humidity. As much as anything can. (Remember, there’s always the treadmill – indoors with the A/C.) 

Of course, the number one tip this time of year for anytime you set foot outside, don’t forget your sunblock. Protecting your exposed skin from the sun’s harmful rays is extremely important to ensure that you don’t burn.  

In some areas of the country, you’ll want a bug repellant too and maybe hand sanitizer. This article recommends (for a commission) If space in your bag is at a minimum, Theye-brand’s trio of micro sprays, — a sunscreen with SPF 30, a natural insect repellent, and a hand sanitizer in space-saving credit card sized bottles (Available on Amazon). The article also has Harper Bazaar’s picks for several categories of sunblock. Check it out here – but whatever the brand, don’t go out without sunscreen. There are other good tips in here, check it out here. 

*The World Meteorological Organization defines a heat wave as “five or more consecutive days during which the daily maximum temperature surpasses the average maximum temperature by 9 °F or more.” (Based on local/regional temperatures) 


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