Four tips to help beat the Arizona heat

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen sits atop Peralta Trail in Arizona, with Weaver's Needle in the background.

During my recent trip to Arizona I was fortunate enough to go on several long hikes and bike rides. There are lots of amazing places to do both, which can provide challenging physical tests along with great scenery.
Highlights of my trip were hiking up the Peralta Trail to view Weaver’s Needle and biking and hiking in the San Tan Mountains.

Before we even thought about the hiking and biking we made sure to take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.
It’s extremely important to take safeguards against the heat anywhere the temperatures hits the 70s and above, but especially in the Desert Southwest where the mercury climbs well into the 100s.
Fortunately, the temperatures were in the low 80s during my visit last week, but we were still aware of the heat.
Here are four tips to help deal with the heat when hiking, biking or participating in other outdoor sports.

Drink water before, during and after – Everyone knows you should drink extra water in a hot climate. Even your sweat evaporates extra quickly.
One of my relatives remarked, “I’m in better shape than I thought, I’m barely sweating.“ Trust me, you lose even more fluids in the Arizona heat, but people often lose them so quickly they’re not aware how much they’re sweating sometimes.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you feel thirsty to start consuming water or sports drinks. Once dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke set in they are tough to treat, but drinking enough fluids ahead of time can help prevent such problems.

Don’t forget the sunscreen – Use an SPF 15 or higher suncreen. This will not only help prevent sunburn and dangerous rays that can lead to skin cancer, but it will also allow you to stay a bit cooler. Sunburn causes fluid loss and limits the body’s ability to cool itself.

Wear the right clothing – Lightweight, light-colored clothing will help you stay cooler. A hat is also helpful. Purchasing athletic clothes made with fibers that wick moisture from the skin to clothing for easier evaporation is also helpful.

Start slowly – Get yourself acclimated to the heat over time, especially if traveling from a cooler climate to the likes or Arizona or Florida. Try exercising earlier in the day when the temperature isn’t as high.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com

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