Beat the Heat - Tips for Summer Survival in the High Desert

Happy August to all my friends in Central Oregon and beyond. I've just returned from another nordic camp in Winthrop WA and I'm mentally and physically drained. Upon return from my 22 hrs of training over the past 5 days, it occurred to me that we've had several heat waves here on the West Coast this summer. It's important that we stay cool in hopes to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

While recovering the last day, I've been reading up on 'the heat'. Did you know that heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when your body starts to lose the ability to regulate its core temperature. Excessive exposure to heat can cause many symptoms, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and Vomiting

With heat stroke, your core body temp can exceed 104 degrees (from a typical temp of around 98).

In severe cases that progress to heat stroke patients can develop confusion, irrational thoughts, or seizures, which occur because the various body systems are simply shutting down. It sounds like me in the middle of a dryland workout. Ha. Seriously thought, if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to cool yourself down immediately and seek medical attention. To maintain a safe body temperature, your body has to get rid of any excess heat.  Without any further ado, I give you my top tips to staying cool while exercising in extreme summer temperatures. 

Beat the Heat - avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke

1) Hydrate

Drink water. Staying hydrated is absolutely key to maintaining a healthy body temperature, especially when exercising. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of physical activity. During exercise, keep a drink handy that contains salt, electrolytes (I recommend Salt Stick!), and small amounts of sugar based products, such as Gatorade or Tang to replenish those substances you have lost while sweating. Surfing the wave? Just because you're in the water doesn't mean that you're getting water - hydrate.

2) Be acclimated to the heat

You need to adapt if you want to survive and thrive. You need to be used to the heat and being outside. If you spend a lot of your time inside with air conditioning or cooler conditions and suddenly try to be Capt. America outdoors, your body might not be ready for that kind of heat exposure. Try and expose yourself (wrong choice of words?) to activity outside during the summer.

3) Be 'Weight Aware'

As my father always reminds me - he's not a Super Model anymore. Folks who are carrying around a couple more lbs than normal (or what they are used to) are at much greater risk for heat-related illnesses. Carrying excess weight can adversely impact your body’s ability to regulate its temperature and cause you to retain more heat. I'm not a doctor, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but it seems like this is good advice, no?

4) Don't be sick

 If you’ve recently overcome an illness, be cautious about the amount of time you spend outside and spend exercising for at least a week. Infections such as the flu can cause your body temperature to spike, so don't exercise when you are sick. Think before you go and listen to your body!!

5) Tag Team

What better way to exercise - keep it fun (and real) with a friend. I do most of my workouts with my team and friends. I ski in groups, surf with friends and someone always knows where I'm going to be. If you're going out for a day in the hot sun - be it floating the river, fishing a mountain creek or lake, or tackling the PCT - bring a friend. If you don't have a friend, then buy a hat and you'll have me for life. 

6) Be aware of temperature and time

The Central Oregon region has huge temperature swings in the summer season. It's quite common to start a morning in the low to mid 40 degree range and spike to 95+ by 4-5 pm. With that said, keep an eye on the time of day that you’re planning on being outside. It's best to get heavy, labor intense exercise in no later than mid morning. If this time of day is unmanageable, it's always good to check the heat index, or the combination of the temperature and humidity levels, via a mobile weather app or online. When you see heat indexes in the high 90s or above, be especially careful about the amount of time you spend outside (as well as the type and intensity of the activity that you are considering). Common theme here: be smart.

7) Wear appropriate clothing

Wait - is this a shameless plug for Hurricane Headwear? You're damn right it is. Would this now be the time to tell you to order a Hugger or 10? Yes. What about the Lounge? If you're floating the river, grab one here or at one of our retailers - say Tumalo Creek or Newport Market. Ok, I'd be remiss if I didn't also tell you to limit sun exposure when you’re outside by wearing loose-fitting clothing. Also consider Sun Screen (SPF 50), maybe an umbrella or some type of shade/cover to protect yourself from the sun.

Central Oregon is a 4,000 ft, 4-season high desert wonderland. Spending time in the sun is the best part of summer, so make sure to use these tips to stay safe and maximize your enjoyment while doing so. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published