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Exercising in the Heat

White Plains Hospital

June 1, 2021

Exercising in the Heat

June is here and with it... heat and humidity. A physician shares how to stay active in summer.

If you were looking forward to the warmer weather so you could move your exercise outdoors, you should probably make some accommodations when the heat and humidity are this severe.

Exercising outdoors in the heat of summer is a lot different than churning out miles in an air-conditioned gym, says Farrukh Jafri, MD, Medical Director of WPH Cares, who has spent many years working as an emergency room physician. If you push too hard in high temperatures, your body can become dehydrated or overheat to the point of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Heatstroke can be severe and life threatening, but if you exercise smart, it can be avoided.
Dr. Jafri has some suggestions.

  • Make sure you’re well hydrated before you start exercising, says Dr. Jafri. “Have at least two glasses of water before you start and if there’s a heat advisory or humidity over 80 percent, it’s probably best to exercise inside.” 
  • If you must exercise outdoors, he suggests that you exercise in the early morning or late afternoon
  • While you exercise, it is important to drink water. However, too much water can result in abnormally low levels of sodium in your body. Dr. Jafri suggests weighing yourself before and after a run. “If you weigh more after your run, consider cutting down on your water intake.”
  • He recommends wearing moisture-wicking fabrics — they facilitate cooling — and shedding layers when you can. 
  • And finally: If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, faint, or have cramps, stop exercising. “If your body is giving you warning signs, rest and take it easy. Find a shaded area where you can sit down,” says Dr. Jafri. “Wait 20 minutes. If you feel better, go home with the assistance of a friend and rest.”
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