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Battling the Heat and Exercise

The heat and humidity feel oppressive when even just walking outside for short periods of time. When deciding to do any kind of physical activity in the added heat and humidity of late summer, keep in mind the added stress that your body may be under. We have compiled ways to help eliminate the risks associated with excessive heat and exercise.

Heat related illnesses aren’t uncommon, but are often something we forget about when having fun in the sun. Our bodies naturally adjust to the heat by circulating more blood through the skin to help cool our internal temperature. This means there is less blood in the muscles and vital organs and is where our heat related illnesses stem from.

Heat Illnesses to watch for 

A minor and more common of these illnesses are Heat Cramps. Heat cramps aren’t uncommon to normal muscle cramps during exercise. There is often pain or a spasm of the affected muscle, and stopping exercise to stretch and rest is the best way to combat these cramps.

A more aggressive and serious illness is Heat Exhaustion. Many of the warning signs may go unnoticed as heavy sweating, and muscle cramps may seem normal when engaging in exercise. If a person complains of dizziness, headache or nausea they may be experiencing heat exhaustion. As well as if a person appears pale, cold, faints or vomits they too are experiencing heat exhaustion. Bring this person into the shade or indoors, try and cool them with cold towels and have them sip cool water slowly. If their condition seems to stay they same or worsen seek medical help immediately as they may be experiencing another more serious heat related illness.

Heat Stroke is the most serious of heat related illnesses and is when a persons body temperature exceeds 103 degrees. They experience many of the same symptoms of heat exhaustion along with confusion, fast strong pulse, reddened hot skin, and may even be loosing consciousness. Heat Stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if you think someone may be experiencing heat stroke. While waiting for emergency medial responders move to person to a cooler location and try to cool them using cold compresses. Do not give this person anything to eat or drink.

Ways to prevent these Illnesses

Exercising outdoors is great! There are no gym fees if you just step outside and hit the pavement or meet up at a local park to play some pick-up games. There are ways to beat the heat and stay healthy while enjoying the outdoors.

Stay up to date on the weather forecasts and heat advisory information for your area. The hour-by-hour forecast is perfect for planning when the best time for outdoor activity is. Try and pick cooler times like early mornings or later in the evening when the sun isn’t at its peak. If you are new to exercising in the heat start off with short, easy workouts and increase time and level of exertion as your body adjusts. The same is true for those new to exercise in general. As always stay hydrated, the hotter weather means that we lose more water through sweat than normal. Being well hydrated helps your body stay cool and is the most important factor in preventing a heat related illness.

Enjoy the warm weather while it is here, and be safe while doing so.

(sources: Center for Disease Control, Mayo Clinic)