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Exercising Safely in the Summer Heat

Even people who love steamy summer afternoons have to admit that warm weather can throw a wrench into workout routines. You have a much higher risk of overheating in the summer, especially on humid days, and you can become dehydrated if you don’t take regular water breaks. When the temperature rises, you’re also at risk for developing cramps and heat exhaustion, which occur when your body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough. If you enjoy working out outdoors, you’ll need to take a few precautions during the dog days of summer. Use the tips below to ensure you’re exercising safely in the summer heat.

Exercising Safely in the Summer Heat

Check the Forecast

Check the weather forecast daily so that you know what to expect and can plan your exercise around warnings of extreme heat and humidity. Typically the midday sun is the hottest, so it’s best to exercise in the morning or the evening. When possible, stick to shady areas.

Dress the Part

How can you expect to stay cool if you head outside in sweatpants and a hoodie? Instead, stick with lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors. Athletic gear these days is often made from breathable fabrics designed to wick away sweat – perfect for hot summer weather. Always slather on sunscreen before heading out, and wear a hat to protect your sensitive scalp and sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Grab a Buddy

Even on a cool day, it’s not a good idea for seniors to exercise alone. Ask a friend, family member, or caretaker to come along so that you can keep an eye on each other. If you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, or overheated, you’ll be glad you have a trusted friend by your side. In addition, bring a cell phone with you in case you need to contact a medical professional – especially if you’ll be exercising in an isolated place, like an unfrequented greenway trail.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout session. If you’re sweating heavily, it’s especially important to rehydrate. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.

Watch Out for Warning Signs

You likely won’t be able to exercise for as long or as hard as you usually would, and that’s okay. Blame the heat! Pay attention to your body throughout your workout session, and don’t hesitate to slow down or take a rest. Watch out for the following symptoms, which may appear if you’re suffering from dehydration or heat illness:

  • Dry, cool skin (symptom of dehydration) or very heavy sweating (symptom of heat illness)
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Not urinating much or dark urine
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

If you start feeling unwell, stop exercising right away, move to a shady spot, and sip on some water. If possible, apply wet cloths to your neck, groin, and armpits. If your condition doesn’t improve, seek medical attention. You should also seek medical attention ASAP if you experience any of these severe symptoms: high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit), weak pulse, fast and shallow breathing, extreme confusion, seizure, or unconsciousness.

Talk to Your Doctor

Before starting any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to ensure that it’s appropriate given your current physical health and age. Some medical conditions and medications can increase your risk of experiencing a heat-related illness. Additionally, if your exercise sessions ever cause concerning symptoms (pain, dizziness, nausea, etc.), contact your doctor for advice. If needed, a medical professional can also help you develop a workout program that’s beneficial but not overtaxing.


Finally, remember that there are a variety of exercises you can do indoors in the comfort of your air-conditioned home. When the temperature skyrockets, don’t risk your health for a workout.

Stay cool out there!

Are you planning to retire in Greenville, South Carolina? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or give us a call at 864-286-6600.