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Beat the Heat: Staying Safe While Staying Fit

Beat the Heat: Staying Safe While Staying Fit

The sizzling temperatures don’t mean you have to resign yourself to a summer-long Neflix binge from the couch. While the air conditioning may provide a welcome relief, by keeping safety in mind, you can embrace the great outdoors and stay active.

“Hot and humid conditions can pose challenges and test all of us, elite athletes and everyday exercisers alike,” said Matthew Hilton, DO, family and sports medicine physician, Holland Hospital Family Medicine – Zeeland. “To avoid extreme conditions, you can move your workouts indoors, but you can also schedule your activity strategically, like exercising in the mornings vs the afternoon.”

Here are some other tips for working up a good (and safe) sweat when the mercury’s rising:

  • Be flexible. Watch the local forecast and pay attention to daily heat indexes. When the heat index reaches 80 degrees, be cautious about exercise choice, as well as where you’re working out and for how long. Mornings and evenings are the coolest parts of the day; noon to 3 PM is the hottest. You’ll also want to be mindful of any personal health conditions that could put you at higher risk for heat-related problems, such as high blood pressure, poor circulation or heart disease; your age (if you’re 65 or older); your weight; and taking certain prescription medications.

  • Hail H2O. To stay hydrated, drink water throughout the day and make sure you have access to H2O during your workout. (If you’re a runner or avid walker, here are some hydration packs and bottle suggestions.) Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. If you’re planning on downing a sports drink, talk to your doctor first if you have a chronic health condition or take medicine, as some meds can negatively interact with certain vitamins, minerals or ingredients.

  • Wear it well. Opt for gear that’s comfortable, such as lightweight, light-colored clothing made of moisture-wicking fabric. Sunglass that block UV rays and a hat or visor are also ideal. “The right apparel and accessories can make a big difference when exercising in the heat,” added Dr. Hilton. “Before heading out, you’ll also want to put on a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.”

  • Recognize signs of overheating. If you feel nauseous, have a headache, or experience dizziness or cramping during a hot workout, slow down or stop and head for shade. Because heat illness and heat stroke can cloud thinking or impair judgement, consider exercising with a friend or partner. That way, should either of you feel overheated or ill, you’ll have someone there to help you take the necessary (and potentially lifesaving) precautions.

For more tips on staying safe while staying fit, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Before you begin any exercise regimen, it’s also smart to talk to your health care provider.

Looking for a new primary care physician? Our primary care patient coordinator can help match you to one who best meets your needs. Call (616) 394-3200. Need sports med care for yourself or a student athlete? Courtney Erickson-Adams, MD, with Family Medicine – South Washington, and Dr. Hilton are both board certified sports medicine physicians and available to provide expert evaluation and treatment.

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  • Matt Hilton, DO

    Matt Hilton, DO

    Dr. Hilton received his undergraduate degree in Nutrition Science at Purdue University. He graduated medical school at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO. He completed his family medicine residency at Metro Health Hospital in Grand Rapids. He then went on to complete a sports medicine fellowship at Metro Health Hospital. Dr, Hilton now works for Holland Hospital providing primary health care and sports medicine services. Outside of the office and training room he enjoys staying active with triathlon training, cooking healthy food, exploring West Michigan with his wife and two young boys and catching a concert if he ever has a chance.

    Dr. Hilton welcomes patients of all ages at Holland Hospital Family Medicine  Zeeland.

    Matt Hilton, DO

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