Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Exercise Safely, Despite the Heat

The warm weather and longer days of summer provide the perfect environment for outside activities and exercise. Yet, these same factors can make it challenging to exercise safely. By taking some simple precautions, you can ensure your safety and health despite the heat.

Exercising in the heat and humidity causes extra stress on the body, according to experts at The Mayo Clinic. Even well conditioned athletes face challenges working out in the heat. From heat cramps to heat exhaustion, there are a variety of heat-related illnesses that may occur as a result of exercising in the hot weather.

Running in the heat

Follow these simple steps to optimize safety and health:

  • Hydrate properly Drink plenty of water. Sports drinks, designed to replace sodium, chloride and potassium lost during sweating, are recommended if exercise will last longer than one hour.
  • Dress appropriately Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made of polyester or polyester blends is best in hot weather; avoid cotton clothing. Layer pieces for easier removal as the body gets warmer.
  • Watch temperatures If necessary, move outside activities indoors or plan them for a cooler time of day. Mornings and evenings are best times for outdoor activities.

How can I prevent dehydration?

When exercising in the heat, water should be consumed regularly throughout the day to ensure proper hydration, according to Andrew T. Levine, ATC, CSCS, graduate assistant and athletic trainer at Long Island University. In addition, avoid excessive consumption of caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks, as they will contribute to dehydration.

In addition:

Before exercise: Drink 16-32 ounces of fluid about 2 hours prior to exercising. This allows enough time for water to enter muscles and other tissue, and other fluids to be excreted.

During exercise: Consume 6-8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.

After exercise: Drink 16 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.

Exercising in the heat

What is heat stress?

Dehydration is a leading cause of heat-related illnesses. When the body becomes overheated and sweat can’t evaporate fast enough to keep the body cool heat stress can occur, according to the Center for Disease Control Symptoms of heat stress include:

Muscle cramps
Profuse sweating (decreased or absence of sweat in severe cases)
Decreased concentration or performance

If any symptoms of heat stress occur while exercising:

Stop activity immediately
Get out of the heat
Remove any extra clothing as well as sports equipment
Drink fluids, preferably water or sports drinks
Fan the body or wet it down with cool water
If symptoms continue after 30 minutes, contact a doctor

Heat stress is a serious condition. Left untreated, it can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening illness. Signs of heat stroke are:

1. Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
2. Hallucinations
3. Chills
4. Throbbing headache
5. High body temperature
6. Confusion/dizziness
7. Slurred speech

Keep in mind:

Wear sunscreen Sunburn will inhibit the body’s ability to cool itself, making it more of a challenge to exercise in the heat.
Listen to your body Slow down, if needed. There is no shame in taking it down a notch during hot, humid weather.

Despite these health concerns, it is possible to exercise safely in the heat. Experts agree it’s not necessary to change your exercise routine in most instances.  With a little planning, safe summer workouts can be enjoyed this season.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

1 comment:

  1. Another well written and informative article. Thanks Ms. Rambisz