Staying fit in the summer while also staying safe

We all know the importance of engaging in regular physical activity. But in the hot summer months, it is important to follow some safety strategies to prevent heat related injuries.

We all hear the message to increase the amount of physical activity we do each week as well as reducing the time spent in sedentary behaviors like screen time. Now that the weather is nice, it is easier to walk outside, play catch with the kids or take a swim. But with the increase in temperature, it brings additional safety concerns.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a comprehensive set of physical activity recommendations for Americans. The Physical Activity Guidelines (2008) for Americans provides a set of guidelines for children, adults and older adults to follow with the goal of improving individual health outcomes and consequently decreasing health risks like stroke, heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

These guidelines recommend the following frequency and amounts of physical activity based on age and abilities:

  • Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (one hour) or more of physical activity daily.
  • Adults should do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
  • To receive more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (five hours) a week of moderate intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. There are specific guidelines for adults with disabilities, pregnant or older adults. See these for more detailed information.

Now that we know how much exercise we need to do, it is important to remind ourselves of how to do it safely with the changing weather.

  • Stay Hydrated. Drink water before, after and during workouts. Aim for a few glasses before and after working out. Drink while exercising, about every fifteen minutes.
  • Exercise in the morning or the evening while it is cooler. Workout in the shade if possible during the heat of the day.
  • Take time to get used to the warmer weather. It may take your body a few days to adjust to the heat. Gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
  • Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes that wick away moisture.
  • Communicate with your medical care provider if you are new to exercising or take any medicines that may intensify the effects of heat-related illness.

Keeping active is important and part of a healthy lifestyle. Doing it safe during the summer months is essential to having exercise be fun and injury-free.

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