Working out(doors)

Public health professor offers tips for staying cool while working out in 'famously hot' Columbia

Columbia got its “famously hot” nickname for a reason and summertime is it. Exercising or working outside this time of year can be dangerous if you don’t take proper precautions to avoid heat exhaustion or a heat stroke.

We sat down with Susan Yeargin, associate professor of athletic training in the department of exercise science, to find out how to stay safe during outdoor exercise and what are the signs that you might be getting overheated.

“Someone suffering from a heat stroke will be sweating profusely and will not feel good. They probably won’t be acting like themselves, they won’t know where they are and they will be confused,” says Yeargin. “Adults are particularly good at pushing themselves too far in the heat, and as result, you can have a heat stroke.”

“Heat exhaustion is another dangerous situation. The person will probably collapse, they’ll be dehydrated, and they will also be sweating profusely. They’re not going to feel good, but they will know where they are and they’ll be able talk with you. But no matter what, I would call advanced 911 care because that is a medical emergency.”

Here are some of Yeargin’s tips for keeping your cool during summer activities.

Tip #1: Exercise at ideal times

“Avoid the worst times of day. You should be doing your best exercise before 10 a.m. and after 5p.m., but here in South Carolina I encourage people to exercise before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. The earlier you can work out, the better, because it’s going to be cooler and humidity will be a little lower.”

Tip #2: Wear breathable clothing

“I always encourage people to wear tank tops, shorts and light-colored clothing. We need to get away from wearing long-sleeve clothing to induce sweating, because that is a dangerous practice. It is never a good idea to try to purposely make yourself sweat." 

Tip #3: Avoid dehydration, but also hyperhydration

“You don’t want to be dehydrated, but you also don’t want to be hyperhydrated. Listen to your thirst, drink if you’re thirsty and pay attention to urine color. A light yellow means you’re hydrated and doing good, but a bright yellow or brown means you’re dehydrated and you need to drink fluids. But you also don’t want to drink too many fluids, because that’s just as dangerous. If you do drink too much water, you dilute how much sodium is in your body and that’s called hyponatremia. Eventually, that is deadly.”

Tip #4: Consume drinks that you enjoy

“Research indicates that people will drink whatever they prefer. If you like strawberry-kiwi Gatorade, then drink strawberry-kiwi Gatorade. If you like lime-carbonated water, then drink lime-carbonated water. Anything in that range is what I would encourage people to drink before, during and after a workout.”

Tip #5: Work out with friends

“Working out before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. is sometimes hard for students because you never know when your class breaks will be, particularly with a summer class, so they should utilize inside resources, like our gym facilities. If you do enjoy working out outside, go as early as possible, and find a group of people that are willing to go early in the morning. It will motivate you, and you can make sure that you are keeping each other safe in these hot conditions. But if you do decide to work out alone, make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you’re going to be back.”

Tip #6: Replenish necessary electrolytes

“The term electrolytes encompasses a lot of different things, like sodium and potassium, but sodium is the one we lose the most. I know that most of the time our diets should be low in sodium, but if you are a person that likes to exercise outside or you work out outside, you should have some salt in your diet. Incorporating pretzels, chips that are high in sodium, or a low-calorie popcorn will allow you to get sodium in your diet without having to eat a high-calorie food, like a hot dog.”

Share this Story! Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about