Working Out in Summer and keeping up your healthy lifestyle should not stop because of the hot weather. Whether you’re running, playing a pickup game of basketball, or going for a power walk, take care when the temperature rises. If you exercise outdoors in hot weather, use these commonsense precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.
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How heat affects your body working out in summer
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don’t take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature and humidity can increase your core body temperature.
To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.
Understand Heat-related illness
Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels, and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily, and you don’t drink enough fluids.
The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated. Heat illnesses may include:
- Heat cramps. Heat cramps, sometimes called exercise-associated muscle cramps, are painful muscle contractions that can occur with exercise. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. You may feel muscle pain or spasms. Your body temperature may be normal.
- Heat syncope and exercise-associated collapse. Heat syncope is a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting caused by high temperatures, often occurring after standing for a long period of time, or standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time. Exercise-associated collapse is feeling lightheaded or fainting immediately after exercising, and it can occur especially if you immediately stop running and stand after a race or a long run.
- Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F (40 C), and you may experience nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, fainting, sweating, and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
- Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). Your skin may be dry from lack of sweat, or it may be moist.
Pay attention to warning signs
During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. If you ignore these symptoms, your condition can worsen, resulting in a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Visual problems
If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition and call a doctor.
Check with your doctor before working out in summer
Get cleared by your doctor before working out in summer heat. Once your doctor clears you for exercise, you may begin to exercise for short periods of time and gradually exercise for longer periods as you adjust to the heat.
How to avoid heat-related illnesses
When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:
- Check the Weather. Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity. In running events, there are “flag” warnings that correspond to the degree of heat and humidity. For example, a yellow flag requires careful monitoring, and races are canceled in black flag conditions.
- Know your limits. If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. It can take at least one to two weeks to adapt to the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well-hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids. If you plan to exercise intensely, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride, and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss,
- Dress appropriately. Lightweight and breathable, loose-fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
- Use the shade. Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas, or do a water workout in a pool.
- Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer. Definitely do not skim on the sunscreen
Take precautions to prevent and know the signs of all the different heat-related health diseases. The number one thing to keep in mind is knowing your limits and not overworking yourself. If the temperature is too high or there is a heat warning, it is okay to just skip the workout altogether because your health is more important.
Last but not least consider taking Dr. J’s Natural Energy Booster capsules to help boost your summer workout energy in the heat.