Outdoor Summer Exercise: Avoid Heat Related Illness

Photo Credit: Bibikoff CC-BY-2.0

Summer is just around the corner! Warm weather draws people out of the indoors and into the sunshine. Exercising outdoors can be enjoyable, but don’t let heat cause you injury or illness. Exercising in high summer temperatures requires that you take a few extra precautions. You can avoid heat-related illness by exercising outdoors in the morning or evening before the day heats up. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Wear loose fitting clothing that does not trap heat. Stop exercising if you experience any symptoms of heat-related illness.

Your body temperature increases when you are exposed to high summer temperatures. Exercising increases your body temperature, too. To cool down, your body sends more blood to your skin, which leaves less blood available for your muscles. Exercise increases your heart rate. To compensate for less blood flow to your muscles when you exercise, your heart rate increases. High humidity prevents your sweat from evaporating, which increases your body temperature even more. You see how you can push your body into a heat spiral that can leave you suffering heat cramps to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke?

Pay attention to your body and learn to recognize the warning signs of heat-related illness. Heat cramps are muscle contractions that typically affect your legs and your abdominal muscles. You may experience heat cramps, even if your body temperature is normal. Heat exhaustion is evidence by a body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheight (40 degrees C) accompanied by nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache and clammy skin. Heat exhaustion is a serious medical condition and must be treated right away or you could suffer heat stroke. Heat stroke is life threatening. You could suffer brain and organ damage. You can die as a result of heat stroke.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience muscle cramps, vomiting or nausea, confusion or dizziness. Stop exercising immediately and take steps to hydrate and cool your body. Drink water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes, remove excess clothing and pour water over your body and fan yourself to cool down.


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