I well know the joy of going outside to play tennis or golf in sunny weather. Even taking a long walk can be exhilarating. In North Carolina, we often have prolonged cold weather, sometimes into April or later. It’s strange. Sometimes Spring weather appears in February, sometimes not until May.

Summer weather is altogether quite different. June, July and August can be sweltering months. I can remember playing in a tennis tournament with temperatures reaching 100 degrees in the third set. Afterwards, I could barely move or think clearly. Fortunately, I was able to find a couple of bananas quickly. My fingers and toes were cramping, despite my hydration during the match.

Warm, sunny days are ideal for exercise if we are careful. Heat illness can make us miserable for a few hours, as in my case. Or more serious cases can be life threatening.

Per Dr. Tom Waters and Cleveland Clinic, “Sweating is our main mechanism to dissipate heat. When it’s hot and humid, we’re not very efficient in getting rid of heat”.

This is when a heat illness can happen. Our body temperature rises and we need to take action to lower it. This can be getting out of the sun and drinking fluids. Or visiting an emergency room.

Young children and older adults are more vulnerable. In high heat, they should take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids.


Heat cramps give us the first notice that we need to cool down. When we feel muscle spasms, we need to do the following:

  • Get to a cooler area immediately
  • Stretch gently and massage the affected muscles
  • Drink an electrolyte drink or water
  • By all means, avoid caffeine or alcohol

We should suspend any more exercise during that day. If our cramps don’t go away in an hour or if we have heart problems, we should seek medical help right away.

Heat exhaustion is more severe than heat cramps. Symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin that feels cold and clammy or dry and hot
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Feeling chilled or getting goosebumps, even though it is hot

Heat exhaustion can escalate to heat stroke if untreated. We need to:

  • Move to a cool place to rest
  • Loosen our clothing and fan our skin
  • Sip cool sports drinks containing salt and sugar
  • If we experience no improvement, we should get medical help immediately

Heat stroke is the most serious of heat illnesses and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:

  • High body temperature, over 103 degrees F or higher
  • Warm and dry skin
  • Confusion or slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Possible seizures or loss or consciousness

We must:

  • Call 911 right away
  • Move to a cool, shaded area until medical help arrives
  • Remove excess clothing and fan the skin
  • Place cold wet cloths on skin and ice bags on armpit and groin areas


If we are cautious and prudent, we may prevent most heat illnesses. It helps to gradually acclimate ourselves to hot weather exercise, taking a week or two to work up to the challenge. Here are some tips:

Avoid the hottest part of the day. Early in the morning or late in the day work best. 11 am to 3 pm should be avoided. We should take note of humidity forecasts, since we then are less able to evaporate our perspiration.

Drink plenty of fluids. We need to hydrate before, during and after our exercise activity. 16 to 24 ounces of water before exercise is recommended. We can’t simply wait until we are thirsty. Extremely cold water is not good, since it may cause stomach cramps. Alcohol, caffeine or sugared drinks may cause us to lose fluids.

Use sunscreen regularly. An SPF of at least 30 is best. It should be reapplied every 2 hours after sweating.

Wear light, breathable clothing. Wear well-ventilated clothing. White or other light colors reflect heat best. The most important body part to keep cool is the head. We need to wear a hat and even soak it in cold water if we become tired.

Replenish your electrolytes. If we plan to be active for a couple of hours or more, a good choice is a sports drink to replenish electrolytes. Bananas helped me, but sports drinks are easier to use.


I am an affiliate marketer, which means that I make associations with companies that provide equipment or other goods that are relevant to the articles I write. I may earn by promoting the links to these companies or to specific links within their inventories.

Please see my upper menu – BECOME AN AFFILIATE MARKETER – for information on how this works.

For today, I am promoting Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon.

Dick’s Sporting Goods . I have been a customer of DSG for several decades and an associate for several years. I have found their customer service and community involvement to be excellent. They are now featuring the following specials for summer sports:

Up to 50% off select clothing and shoes – Nike, adidas, Under Armour and others

Up to 40% off select outdoor gear – bikes, paddles, camping/hiking

Up to 50% off select golf equipment, clothing and shoes

Up to 40% off select team sports equipment and cleats

Up to 50% off select Fan Shop gear – support your favorite pro or NCAA teams

Up to 50% off select fitness equipment and gear

See the Dick’s Sporting Goods link at the side of my website. Click on the red link.

Amazon has many items that help us out when we participate in hot weather sports. Here are a few links. Look around.

Portable neck fan

4 pack cooling towels

Cooling neck wrap

Low calorie Gatorade G2 24 pack

Banana Boat SPF 50 broad spectrum sunscreen lotion

Men’s sun protection long sleeved shirt – under $20

Women’s sun protection t-shirts


Sad to say, I didn’t always prepare for the ravages of heat and sun during my earlier days of playing tennis or otherwise being outdoors. I was even told that salt tablets were good to take before a match and that we should only sip water.

Later, I began to usually wear a hat, but still didn’t always apply sunscreen. I regret that I didn’t take this as seriously as I might have.

I also went on beach trips at least annually and was not always careful.

I survived, but writing about this reminds me of how important it is to take a few necessary steps to protect our skin and health in general.

Please enjoy summer time sports, but with appropriate planning and care.

Leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below.



  1. After a move to a sub-tropical part of Australia a few years ago, I have become far more aware of the importance of staying hydrated. And it is even more so when exercising. Avoiding the hottest part of the day when exercising outside is crucial if you want to avoid heat exhaustion or even worse, sunstroke.Drinking enough water and replacing electrolytes will greatly help you. Exercising in water, like swimming, has been the best solution for me. Thank you for sharing some great ideas to protect yourself when exercising in hot weather.

    • Thanks, LineCowley! Yes, swimming or water aerobics are great for hot summer days. We all need to be careful, since it seems that all climates are gradually warming.

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