How to Exercise Safely in Hot Weather

Gyms are closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which means more Arizonans are flocking to the outdoors to get some fresh air and exercise.

With excruciating temperatures, this can pose many dangers. There are some precautions you can take to ensure that you are exercising safely in the heat.

Doctors say they’ve seen a spike in heat-related illnesses recently in Arizona and know many people are avoiding emergency rooms due to COVID-19.

They want to make sure people are taking proper precautions to avoid becoming dehydrated.

“Our bodies are not used to working out in 115 to 120 degrees and we are trying to do similar workouts we do in the gym,” says Dr. Kareem Shaarawy, a sports medicine physician at Barrow.

If people aren’t taking the proper precautions, he says they could risk getting heat-related illnesses.

“Our risk for heat illness, muscle stroke, cramps or those types of diagnoses go up,” Shaarawy explained.

He has tips on how to avoid these illnesses from hot desert temperatures.

-Drink water
-Workout before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
-Stay in the shade
-Avoid asphalt
-Use sunscreen to keep your skin cool

It’s also important to know why you need to do it, he explains, “The better you hydrate the body uses blood as a circulant mechanism to cool our skin down so the better hydrated, the more circulation you will have and the better your body can cool itself down.”

Adding, “Active people should prep your hydration all day, not just prior to workouts.”

Another tip Shaarawy gives is to take a cold shower before working out outside and to leave your hair damp because it’ll cool you down instead of your hair being dry and hot.

If you are waiting to replenish fluids once you start to sweat or are thirsty, then you are likely already behind, Shaarawy said.

Those exercising should be hydrating at least 24 hours before — and even during — workouts. Shaarawy recommends a sports drink like Gatorade for anyone exercising outdoors for longer than an hour.

“It is important to remember that in a dry heat, unlike in more humid climates, we do not always sweat all the time,” he said.

“So if we are waiting to replenish our fluids once we start sweating or we become thirsty, then we are likely behind in fluids.”

“The consumption of alcohol increases your risk of dehydration as well,” Shaarawy said.

He also advised Arizonans to be mindful of the dehydrating effects of drinking an excessive amount of caffeine.

In the end make sure you:

-Take it Easy
-Avoid the hottest part of the day
-Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing
-Make sure to eat… food = fuel!
-Listen to the signs from your body and go inside when it tells you to