Staying Cool and Avoiding Heatstroke

heat-strokeIt’s summertime, and you know what that means: making the most of the outdoors while you can! For the next few months, the clouds disappear and we are treated to our annual dose of sun. You’ve got to enjoy it while you still can.

I’ve written a couple blogs about why it’s so important to get outdoors, and how you can really use this time to help with your fitness. It gets you some healthy vitamin D, it adds some variety to your weekly fitness experience, and best of all, you get to enjoy yourself as you do it. Be sure to check out my blogs on the matter if you have a moment.

But something else comes with summer that we aren’t necessarily used to, and that’s some serious heat. The sun is out a lot more than normal, and things start to really heat up right around the beginning of July. Heck, this coming week is seeing a forecast well into the triple digits, with 102 estimated on Thursday.

Like all things in life, too much of a good thing definitely comes into play when it comes to spending time outdoors. Like any machine, well oiled or not, our bodies can get overheated when we spend too much time in the sun. This condition is commonly known as a heatstroke or sunstroke, and can be caused by spending too much time in severely hot weather with little to no water to hydrate.

Make no mistake, getting a little overheated can be VERY dangerous. Prolonged exposure can cause damage to internal organs and even brain damage, especially if you’re not drinking enough water.

These next few days, if you plan on spending some time outdoors, make sure you watch out for some common symptoms of heatstroke both in yourself and anyone you might be outdoors with. Symptoms include:

  • A throbbing headache, along with dizziness or a light-headed feeling
  • Dry, red skin that is warm or hot
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Unconsciousness or seizures

If you start to notice symptoms in yourself or in others, get yourself or your friend out of the sun immediately and seek medical attention. Heatstroke is not something to be taken lightly. Trust me, it isn’t a sign of weakness from spending so much time under rain clouds. Even natives to regions like Texas, Arizona, or Nevada suffer the same ill effects from spending too much time in the sun.

So do yourself a favor. Enjoy the sun, but drink plenty of water while you’re out there. And on Thursday, when it gets to 102, make sure you come to Boomer Fitness instead! We’ve got air conditioning and plenty of water, and some people who will be enjoying a Bootcamp, some personal training, or just escaping the extreme heat by burning some calories instead.

Taking Your Fitness Outdoors

Senior Couple In Fitness Clothing Running Along BeachI love spending time in the gym, and my hope is you enjoy your time coming to the gym as well. But that doesn’t mean our fitness is restricted to weights and machines. One of the key success factors of a fitness plan is enjoying yourself as you do it.

To me, good weather is the perfect opportunity to take your fitness outdoors. It gives us a chance to go out and soak up some vitamin D, breath the fresh air, get some great pictures, and get some real-life fitness in at the same time.

But March is always a grab bag when it comes to good weather, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s in like a lion, out like a lamb. Other times the lion seems to stick around for a while. But when the forecast is good, It’s a great chance to enjoy our first taste of spring and summer, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

On the rare day we get a nice day outside, I want to make sure you can enjoy the great outdoors and get some fitness in at the same time. Here are a few ideas so you can enjoy the great outdoors to its fullest:

Cycling

If you know me, you know I have some very strong feelings about spin class. You end up burning some calories, but you’re doing the same action over and over again. And at the end of the day, you haven’t travelled anywhere, have you?

Real world cycling is a little different. You’re going to encounter some more variation in resistance and, best of all, you’re going to see a lot more scenery! The best part is the Portland/Vancouver area is a great place to cycle, no matter your skill level. So whether you’re an avid cyclist or just jumping on the bike for the first time, you will have plenty to do on the next beautiful day.

If you’re looking for something to ease into, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail is a part of a non-profit effort to repurpose unused railways called “Rails to Trails.” The path used to be a part of a railway system from Portland to Seattle, and is now a 21 mile trail. Cross waterways like Beaver Creek and the Nehalem River, and view the massive trestles used during the heyday of the railroad. Take a look at the trail here.

If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, consider enjoying the wonderful sights of the Gorge by taking a ride paralleling the Columbia Historic Highway. One of my clients, Chris, took this trail by starting at the Eagle Creek Trailhead. She took the trip about 2 years ago, and still talks about it!

Taking this trail will give a great view of Bonneville Dam and passes by a fish hatchery. Stop by the Bridge of the Gods to see the Mural, or support the locals selling smoked salmon. You can find a detailed map of the route here.

Remember – before going out on bike, make sure you bring water and trailmix, plan the trip ahead of time, and always wear a helmet!

Hiking

If you’re looking for a whole-body workout, there is nothing that caters to the human form more than hiking. While you get the work-out in your legs, you’re also going to be working on your core and your balance. You’re also going to be building bone density, lowering blood pressure, and enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest! What’s not to love?

One of my favorite places to go hiking in the Pacific Northwest is the gorge. There are tons of hiking trails that range from easy-going to seriously steep, and all provide a great view.

If you’re starting out, think about going to the Elowah Falls trail, near Dodson. The trail is fairly short, but offers some great viewing opportunities for those looking for a vista.

If you’re looking for something unique, take a look at Beacon Rock on highway 14. The hike is a little steep, but the many switch backs give a beautiful view the entire way up the summit. And when you’re at the top, what a view!

Another one of my favorites is the Multnomah Falls trail. It gives a great opportunity to view the beautiful falls while enduring some moderate steepness on the switchbacks.

Like I said for bikes, remember to bring water and trailmix and plan your trip ahead of time. Remember there’s no shame in turning around if the trail just seems to difficult. It just gives you a reason to come back when your more prepared for the trail!

When you’re out on the trail, be sure to take some pictures and share with Boomer Fitness! We love to stay updated on how you’re getting fit in the outdoors.