Exercise Safely in Hot Weather
Many people flock outside in warm weather to travel, jog, play basketball or do yard work, but when the mercury rises, “easy” exercise becomes a huge physical undertaking, and intense exercise can be deadly. If your body’s temperature regulation system is overtaxed, you’re at risk of developing a heat-related illness. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds us of what we need to do to protect yourself in extreme summer heat:
1) Keep an Eye on the Weather – When you combine exercise and warm (hot) weather, they increase your core body temperature. Even seasoned athletes need to exercise caution. Your body cools itself by sweating, but cooling down is harder in humid weather because perspiration doesn’t evaporate as quickly from your skin. Your heart rate rises as your body works hard to keep its cool. A workout that feels easy on a temperate day can be dangerously intense on a hot, humid afternoon. Respect your body and your own limitations. People who are overweight, the elderly, kids and those not accustomed to rigorous exercise should be extremely cautious in hot weather. Having just returned from Multi-county 4-H camp, we gave the participants a constant reminder to stay hydrated, and cool down often. Our camp facility was nice, but it has a LOT of hills!
2) Dress Appropriately – When out in the heat, what you wear matters. Light-colored, sweat-wicking clothing is best for hot weather; dark, heavy clothes can make you even hotter. Gear — such as protective padding or helmets — also traps heat and raises your body temperature. If you have to suit up, shorten your workout intensity and duration.
Take care of your skin. Choose water-resistant sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels), and apply it 30 minutes before going out. Reapply the sunscreen according to the package directions. Sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
3) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – This is a point that I stress, not only with our 4-H’ers, but with my family. Make sure you drink enough fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated, and enjoy water-rich foods including crisp lettuce, watermelon, grapefruit, broccoli and yogurt. It’s surprisingly easy to lose a few pounds of water weight through sweating. Weigh yourself before and after working out, and replace each pound of weight loss with 3 cups of water. Water is a good choice because it moves quickly through your digestive track and into your tissues. If you’re sweating heavily or exercising for more than 60 minutes, sports drinks can help your body refuel and rehydrate more efficiently.
4) Know the Warning Signs: Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke – Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures, and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Signs of heat exhaustion include: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, dark urine, cool clammy skin. The pulse rate may be slow and weak. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Body temperature may rise to 105°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. With heat stroke victims, look for the following symptoms: dry, hot skin (no sweating); rapid, weak pulse; confusion; body temperature of above 105°; seizures; unconsciousness.
So enjoy the outdoors, but play it safe when it comes to extreme heat and physical activity!
It is more important to reach the people who count than to count the people you reach – anonymous
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