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STAY SAFE WHILE EXERCISING in Colorado’s heat

 

By Lexi Reich

 

PHOTO: By josh resnick/adobe.stock.com

Exercising during the summer can be challenging anywhere, but Colorado’s high altitudes add an extra layer of difficulty. From timing your workouts to monitoring hydration, experts advise making several adjustments to ensure safety and effectiveness when you workout outdoors in the heat.

 

“Extreme heat can cause various conditions, ranging from simple dehydration to more serious issues like heat exhaustion or even heat stroke,” warns Dr. Nate Williams, chiropractor and co-owner of Performance Sports Medical Center in Greenwood Village. He says it’s crucial to watch for signs such as a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, confusion, delirium or unconsciousness.

 

Timing Is Everything

One key strategy to avoid the heat is to schedule your workouts wisely. “During the summer months, it’s best to exercise early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are lower,” Williams recommends. This can help you avoid the day’s peak heat and reduce the risk of overheating.

 

Acclimatization and Preparation

“We have a lot of people who come to Colorado in the summer to visit, and even relatively simple things for locals like walking the stairs at Red Rocks can be exhausting to many who haven’t allowed their bodies time to acclimate to the elevation change that occurs when traveling to the Mile High City,” Williams says.

Lea Klein, physical therapist and owner of Klein Physical Therapy in south Denver, also emphasizes the importance of acclimatization. “Before exercising in hot weather and at high altitude, ensure you’ve been preparing in the prior weeks by gradually training in the heat,” she advises. This helps your body adjust to the increased demands placed on it by the temperature and altitude.

 

Hydration is Key

Proper hydration is crucial when exercising in the heat. “Hydrating is one of the biggest precautions because of the increase in blood volume and the amount of fluid lost through sweating,” Klein explains.

“Being properly hydrated in the twenty-four hours prior to activity is very important,” she adds. “Make sure you have plenty of water and even bring an electrolyte drink to replenish depletion during the activity.”

 

Adjusting Intensity and Duration

It’s also important to adjust workout intensity and duration based on the heat. “When you are in the heat and high altitude, your heart rate will be higher with less effort,” Klein explains.

Klein recommends determining your heart rate max prior to the activity and aim for 71 to 83 percent during most of the workout, with short periods at 84 to 91 percent.

 

Listen to Your Body

Williams emphasizes the importance of self-awareness. “I think the most important thing is just recognizing your fitness level and listening to your body,” he says. “Sometimes people think they shouldn’t take a break, or they will mess up their workout, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your body will give you signs and warnings when it is in need of a rest, or in need of more hydration, and those warnings should be heeded.”

 

Additional Tips for Safe Summer Workouts

Wear breathable clothing: This helps with sweat evaporation.

Use sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Wear a hat and sunglasses: These provide additional protection from the sun.

Consider indoor workouts: During peak heat times, indoor workouts might be a safer option. “If it’s mid-day in the hot parts of July and August, working out indoors can sometimes be the better choice,” Williams says.

By following these expert tips and paying attention to your body’s signals, you can safely enjoy exercising in Colorado’s summer heat. Stay hydrated, watch for warning signs and adjust your workout as needed to stay safe and healthy.

 

Performance Sports Medical Center

6535 S. Dayton St., Ste. 3100

Greenwood Village

303.335.9140

psmcdenver.com

 

Klein Physical Therapy, P.C.

2401 S. Downing St.

Denver

720.252.6304

kleinphysicaltherapy.com