Expert Author Kasia Lanucha

Walking is a wonderful form of exercise. If you can put one foot in front of the other, then you qualify as one of the millions of people who take part in this engaging activity.

For many people who walk, the changing seasons pose a continuing challenge to their walking program. Summer sees many people heading out for long walks. Unfortunately during the hot summer months a significant number of these people fall victim to overexertion on hot humid days.

Here are a few tips to help you as you continue your walking exercise program during the hottest days of the summer months.

First, it is important to understand that the normal body temperature is about 98.6°F and ranges from as low as 97.0°F in the early morning to as high as 99.0°F in the evening. The body maintains its temperature in the normal range because it is the ideal temperature for the millions of cellular reactions that go on and which allow our bodies to work at their optimum levels.

On very hot days outdoor temperatures severely challenge the body's regulatory system and this is especially true in the case of the elderly. Our temperature control mechanisms diminish as we age and for the elderly it becomes increasingly difficult to hold the ideal temperature range. Elderly people should take more care when exercising on hot days.

It is not only older people who should take precautions walking on hot days. Everyone should take into account these inherent physiological mechanisms of the body. When the temperature is very high it is always best to do your walking early in the day, before 10 am to avoid the hottest part of the day, or later in the evening as temperatures cool at sunset. It is best to walk in shaded areas where you are sheltered from the direct glare of the sun. Temperatures will be lower in the shade and you will reduce the risk of sunburns. Try to stay close to public facilities like bathrooms and potential sources of help in case of an emergency.

Proper hydration is one of the most important factors when considering walking on hot days. Drink water at regular intervals. Do not wait to drink until you're thirsty because by this time your may have lost a significant amount of water and maintaining normal water levels will become more of challenge in this dehydrated state.

Always take into account the Relative Humidity on hot days. One of the important ways your body cools itself is through the evaporation of moisture on the skin. The humidity level is a measure of the moisture in the air. Higher humidity translates into more moisture in the air and more of a tendency of the moisture on your body to not evaporate. This interferes with an important cooling mechanism of the body.

If you understand these mechanisms and take precautions underlined you will avoid many problems during your walks on hot days.

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