Exercise Safety tips from an Exercise Physiologist

This past weekend our support group was led by Exercise Physiologist, Krystal Gay, EP, Lip-P. She brought up some great pointers for exercising during the summer and for weight loss. We had a handful of support group participants who have successfully lost weight and started a new exercise routine that needed this refresher on how to exercise safely.

Stay hydrated.

The best way to stay hydrated is to drink enough water throughout the day. The recommendation for most adults is 6-8 cups of fluid daily. Your body needs adequate fluid supply to maintain proper blood pressure and electrolyte levels.

When exercising, you generate heat which increases your temperature. The evaporation of sweat is your bodies mechanism for lowering your temperature back to normal. However, it puts you more at risk for dehydration if you aren’t diligent about drinking extra fluid to make up for what is lost during exercise.

Krystal recommends you drink:

  • 20 ounces 2 hours prior to exercising
  • 8 ounces right before
  • 4 ounces every 15-20 minutes while active in the heat.

Remember, gulping water right before exercising is not the same!

Stay cool during the summer months.

If you let your body get overheated, you can have a heat stroke. This is why it is important to learn the facts about how to prevent it from happening to you or your friends and family members. First of all, avoid exercising during the hot summer hours from 11 AM – 4 PM and try to do it early in the morning or in the evenings. Wearing light weight clothing that are breathable and finding shady areas to walk or jog is also suggested. 

As soon as you start to notice signs of heat exhaustion such as fatigue, nausea, headache, dizziness, and muscle cramps, get out of the heat and replenish yourself with lots of fluids.  If you start to notice that you have gotten to the point where you stop sweating, have a very high temperature (>104 degrees), and your heart is beating rapidly you should call an ambulance immediately so they can quickly re-hydrate you.

Learn how hard to work out.

It may seem crazy but exercising at a lower intensity may help you achieve more weight loss benefits than other high intensity work outs.  I recently read an article in Your Weight Matters Magazine called “Putting the Science behind Exercise- Workout Smarter, Not Harder” that claims moderate intensive such as light jogging, fast paced walking, aerobic dance classes, and road biking activities will aid in more fat loss compared to high short bursts of high intensity exercises like sprinting or power lifting. Moderate intensive exercises are also considered aerobic exercises meaning that they allow your body to use oxygen to break down fat which in turn, burns more calories. This is good news for people who are just starting out because it proves that you shouldn’t have to over exert yourself in order to burn fat and calories.

Krystal mentioned the importance of checking your heart rate as a way to tell if you are working out too hard or not hard enough. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. The fat burning zone, which is what you should be aiming for if you want to lose weight, is 65% of your maximum heart rate. So, for example if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 180 (220 – 40) and your fat burning heart rate is 117 (180 X 65%). To put it in perspective, that is about 2 times a second. If you have never done this, you may want to invest in a heart rate monitor or have a trained professional teach you how to check your heart rate on a regular basis.  

Recipe of the week:

Vegetable Lasagna – this recipe is a little more labor intensive but well worth it! This recipe is a good way to use up some of those summer squash veggies that are in season.


  1. “Putting the Science behind Exercise – Workout Smarter, Not Harder.” Your Weight Matters spring 2012: 17-19.

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