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Welcome to Fit to the Core’s “Everything you ever wanted to know about fitness” blog. Everyday people are bombarded with conflicting health and fitness messages by the media. It can be overwhelming. I hope to clear up some of those conflicting messages by sharing what I have learned over the years and what I am still learning. The fitness industry is a young industry that is constantly changing and evolving. Let me clear up some of the confusion.

Beverly Brewer Karpinski

Safely Exercising in the Summer Heat

It’s heating up across the country.  If you are planning on heading outdoors for your exercise this summer, please do so safely.

Living next to a mountain preserve here in Phoenix, I observe many runners and hikers exercising outdoors in triple digit temperatures without any water with them.  This isn’t too smart!  Even if you aren’t planning on being out very long, it is better to be safe than sorry.  Even on the small mountain near my home I have seen injured hikers that have had to be rescued and carried down the mountain.

As I said in my last blog, The Importance of Water, make sure you are well hydrated prior to going out for exercise.  Even if you drink water while exercising, if you start out dehydrated, you could still lose too much water through perspiration causing heat illness, or hyperthermia.  These can include heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat cramps may occur in areas such as the calf or abdominal muscles.  This can be a sign of hyponatrimia or reduced sodium levels in the body.  Be especially careful if you are on a low sodium diet.  If you get cramps rest, apply pressure to the muscle and gently stretch, and drink an electrolyte beverage or sport drink.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include pale, cool and clammy skin and a weak and rapid pulse.  It can also include sweating profusely. As it becomes more serious you can get headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. If you suspect heat exhaustion find a cool place to rest, if possible, loosen your clothing, elevate your legs and drink some water or a sports drink.

If you ignore the symptoms of heat exhaustion it can become more serious causing a heat stroke.  It is by far the most serious of the three.  At this stage your body’s core temperature could be elevated as high as 105° Fahrenheit.  Once you get to this stage, your body stops perspiring. Symptoms include hot, red and dry skin. Your body has stopped sweating to conserve body fluids.  Keep in mind that heat exhaustion can occur even after the activity has stopped.  If you are having any of these symptoms you want to find a cool place to rest, remove your outer clothing and cool yourself down quickly by any means.  Use a wet cloth or t-shirt to sponge the skin with water—the face, neck, armpits—and fan yourself.  This is a time to get help immediately! You want to get inside to a cooler environment as soon as possible.

To avoid any of these situations from occurring you will want to adhere to the following:

  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing, a hat, proper footwear, and apply sunscreen.
  • If outdoors for longer periods of time be sure to rest periodically, preferably in a cool or shady area.
  • Don’t forget to pre-hydrate prior to going outdoors—two cups of water 2-3 hours prior and another cup right before.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol prior or during exercise.
  • Bring adequate amounts of water with you.  You should be drinking about 6-8 ounces every 10-15 minutes.  If you will be hiking for an extended period of time, bring extra for emergencies.
  • If you will be exercising for longer than 90 minutes take along a drink such as Gatorade to replace electrolytes.
  • Know your limits.  If you are overweight, elderly or new to exercise do not exert yourself.
  • If going for a day hike and/or in a wilderness area pack your cell phone, a first aid kit, food, water and let someone know where you are going.
  • If exercising in a different climate than you are accustomed to (like heat & humidity) you want to take time to gradually acclimate yourself. Start with small amounts of exercise and increase the time spent outdoors everyday. This usually takes anywhere from one week to ten days to fully acclimate, however for some it may take up to two weeks.
  • Always remember to re-hydrate with water and/or an electrolyte beverage afterward!

Follow these common sense tips to ensure a safe and fun outdoor experience!

Photo Credit:  Akunamatata

About the author

Beverly Brewer Karpinski
Beverly Brewer Karpinski
• Owner and director of "Fit to the Core" In-Home Personal Training
• Health and Fitness Inc. Certified Personal Trainer, 2001
• A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, 2004
• Certified Master Fitness by Phone Coach, 2005
• Strength & Conditioning Personal Trainer Certificate, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ, 2008
• Wellness Editor, Puma Press, 2007-2008
• Currently in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise & Wellness.
• Fitness Manager & Director, Curves for Women, 2004-2006
• In-Home personal training, 2002-Present
• Personal Trainer, Naturally Women, 2004-2006
• Personal Trainer, Total Woman, 2001-2004
• Core Stability Specialty Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001
• Advanced Biomechanics Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001



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