By Laura Garcia, program specialist with Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP)
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — It is no secret that maintaining excellent physical fitness and overall health is integral to being ready and prepared within the Army. But during a global pandemic, community members do not always have the option to exercise inside a gym. When exercising outside, use these safety tips to get the most out of your summer workout.
• Set reasonable goals for yourself. Understand that heat, humidity and weather can have adverse effects on your body, so working out in the summer brings its own set of challenges.
• Adjust your workout times to take advantage of the cooler mornings and evenings. Working out in the middle of a hot day might make you sweat, but it may also cause your body to break down. Subsequently, consider splitting your exercise sessions into smaller increments throughout the day to avoid the heat.
• By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be in trouble. Stay hydrated before, during and after your workout.
• Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. When a person is experiencing heat exhaustion they will feel fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps and an increased body temperature. Experiencing heat stroke comes with the inability to sweat, acute breathing problems and sometimes the loss of consciousness.
• Consider exercising with a workout buddy to monitor each others’ physical states. Often times, it is difficult to notice when your own body is overheating or dehydrated.
• Before exercising, take some time to acclimate to the heat. This is especially important if the outside temperature and humidity is significantly different from indoors. Your body will appreciate being able to slowly adjust to the difference.
• Workout in lightweight exercise attire — especially made of wicking fabric — will work with your body to cool you off.
• On hot days, consider working out in cooler locations. A woods trail is a great site to exercise away from direct sunlight.
• Wearing sunscreen is always a must, but prioritize using formulas made to withstand sports. As you sweat, this kind of sunscreen is designed to not burn your eyes.
• Check your urine, as the color is an indication of hydration levels. If your urine is darker than the color of lemonade, then you may be dehydrated.
• Finally, do not take medications that can intensify symptoms of heat exhaustion. Both caffeine and alcohol can accelerate the effects of dehydration. Additionally, allergy medicines, appetite suppressants and several other over-the-counter drugs can cause dehydration and impair the body’s system that regulates heat.
Exercising outside under the summer sun can be fun and productive, but only if it is done with care.
The 2021 Summer Sense Campaign runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Every week, ASAP expects to bring the segments of the campaign to the small screen with videos and fun facts broadcasted via AFN TV. Then return to this article for the discussed recipes, quizzes and more.