Exercise safely in the heat

Warmer weather brings greater motivation to engage in outdoor activities, and safety should always be your first priority.

Exercising in heat and humidity for prolonged periods of time can overtax the body, unless the fluids lost with perspiration are replaced. Should you consume water or a sports drink? Experts agree that water is the best choice when it comes to normal fluid loss, that is, when going about everyday activities like running errands, housecleaning and other routine tasks, or where exercise is not overly intense.

Sports drinks specifically designed to replace electrolytes are generally recommended as a suitable fluid replacement in cases where physical activity is more extreme or when there is excessive sweating. Most experts recommend steering clear of so-called energy drinks.

More safety tips:

• Remember to carry identification with you, especially if you exercise alone. Include your name and emergency contact number (s), as well as any pertinent medical information.

• If you have a cell phone, take it with you. If you don’t own one, carry a safety device with you such as a personal alarm/siren, or even a whistle.

• Before heading out, let someone know where you are going and the approximate time you plan to be back, as well as the route you will be taking in the event that they need to find you quickly. Keep your eyes and ears open, be aware of your surroundings, and have a strategy planned for handling potential problems.

• People frequently wear headphones while exercising. While motivational, unfortunately this can also make them less aware of noises around them. There are two great products I’ve recently discovered that help solve this problem. AfterShokz headphones have a unique design that allows an open-ear listening experience, providing a safe and comfortable way to tune in to music or a phone call during activity, without tuning out surrounding environmental noise. (aftershokz.com) AIRbudz (safesoundproducts.com) are earbud attachments designed with built-in air channels that allow the user to simultaneously hear music without distortion, while also allowing ambient noise into the ear. They fit into most existing earphones currently on the market that have removable earbud attachments.

• It’s always best to refrain from exercising alone when out at night, but if you do, wear light colored clothing and reflective tape to make you more visible to traffic. If you own a dog, take him with you.

• Vary your route from time to time instead of taking the same one, and don’t always start and stop in the same place and at the same time. When letting yourself back into your house or car after exercising, have your door key or car opener ready beforehand.

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