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Weekly challenge: stay active in the heat

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While Boston is getting a weather reprieve this week — compared with last week’s heat wave with triple-digit temperatures — you may be thinking of returning to your regular outdoor workouts. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should throw caution to the wind and pretend it’s a cool spring-like day.

Exercising outdoors in the heat of summer can lead to a number of avoidable problems like dehydration, sunburn, heat rash, or a bad workout where you just can’t exert yourself too much. In extreme cases, these maladies can trigger risky conditions like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

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Often, we don’t know we’re overheating our bodies until it’s too late. Signs to look for? You stop sweating, have a more rapid pulse than you normally do during workouts, feel nauseous or dizzy, or faint.

The best way to exercise safely on a hot day is to practice common sense: Ease into warm weather exercise doing shorter workouts to let your body acclimate; tote along water to keep your body hydrated; put on plenty of sunscreen; wear a hat and clothes made of breathable fabrics that will wick away sweat. (Last week, I made the mistake of wearing a cotton t-shirt on my 6:30 a.m. run and it weighed more than a pound when I arrived home from all the absorbed sweat.)

Or better yet, just rub on the sunscreen and dive into a pool to swim some laps. Swimming is a great way to get a workout when the mercury rises.

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