The heat is on- keep your exercise game on too

Runner in desert

Whether it is an over or a swamp — and lately, it’s been a little of both — it is hot out there! This is the time of year that most year-round Tucsonans try to hide from the heat by staying indoors as much as possible. This seems like a good practice, but it can hinder many of the activities that we enjoy the other nine months of the year. So what are we to do?!

We definitely don’t want you to have to give up what you enjoy doing, and we also want you to stay active, but we also want you to be smart and safe during your time outdoors. Planning and being prepared is key. Here are some things to consider as we enter into our hotter months.

Be the early bird

Whether you are normally a morning person or not, you pretty much need to be from June through August if you want to ever do anything outside! With the sun rising as early as 5:15, meaning that it is light outside by 5 (that is a.m.!) you have at least an hour before the thermometer moves over 85 degrees. So for those of you who don’t enjoy exercising indoors, try planning for some early morning activities. We are fortunate to have some of the most beautiful sunrises here in Tucson, you just need to get up and out to enjoy them!

Block sun not fun

Summer often means fun in the sun, but we all need to be careful that we aren’t getting too much of a good thing. The CDC recommends the following to protect ourselves from getting too many of those harmful rays.

Sunscreen:

  • Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Reapply every 2 hours that you are out in the sun

Protective Clothing: 

  • Wear clothing to cover exposed skin
  • Loose fitting may be more comfortable; dark colors may offer better protection

Hats:

  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Loose fitting hats may be more comfortable in the heat
  • Sunglasses
  • Don’t forget that the sun can damage your eyes and can increase risk for cataracts
  • Sunglasses that wrap close to your face and block both UVA and UVB will provide the greatest protection

Where there is a will, there is a way

Just because it is hot outside (really hot!) is not a good enough reason to stop all activity. Too often we hear, “I’ll start exercising again once it cools down.”  What people are really saying is, “Now that it is hot outside, I have a great excuse not to be active!” WRONG! With a bit of planning, you can still be active.

If you aren’t a morning person, it might take going to bed earlier than you normally would so that you can get up early. You might also need to have a plan to meet a friend or a group that will help to motivate you to move in the morning. Once you get into a routine, you will realize that it isn’t quite as bad as you used to believe!

If you have access to a pool, this is another great option for a way to stay active during the hot summer months. Remembering that any activity is better than nothing, even walking laps in the shallow part of the pool with get you moving and the water acts as a type of resistance. Just remember, if you are opting to swim and the pool isn’t protected from the sun, be sure you are wearing appropriate sun screen or sun protective swimwear.

Don’t negate the need to hydrate

You have gotten up early, put on the appropriate sun protection, and you have gotten out there and done something active….Good for you! The finally thing to remember about being active during the summer is to hydrate!!

When it is hot out, it is easier to remember to drink water. But if you head out early or are swimming, sometimes we don’t remember that we need to replenish the fluids we have lost. The standard recommendation is eight to ten 8 ounce glasses of water each day. During the summer, especially in Arizona, and particularly adding in outdoor activity, the recommendation goes way up; some recommendations go as high as 30 cups per day. The best way to determine how much you need to drink is to take a look at your urine. Urine should be light in color, similar to lemonade; dark urine the color of apple juice is an indicator of dehydration.  Drinking smaller amounts more frequently maintains hydration better than drinking a large amount all at one time. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start replacing fluids, rather drink throughout the day.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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