People who exercise or play sports outdoors during the summer need to take steps to avoid heat injury, especially heat stroke, experts say.
When temperatures are really sizzling outdoors, workouts can make you fizzle.
In hot weather, your heart not only pumps blood to your working muscles but also sends blood to your skin so your body can release internal heat into the environment and help cool itself, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s position statement on heat and exercise.
This double duty puts added stress on your cardiovascular system. Staying in that state too long increases your risk for dehydration and dangerous heat-related illnesses.
Avoid the Danger Zone
Performing workouts in hot weather (70 to 89 degrees) puts extra stress on the body, but in really hot weather (90 degrees or warmer), heat loss through the skin is compromised and is absorbed back into the body instead.
Plus, sweating alone doesn’t cool the body — sweat evaporation, which turns that water into vapor, does. Increased air moisture — humidity greater than 70 percent — stifles the process, trapping heat inside the body.
To avoid the side effects of heat and humidity while working on your beach body outside, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests you stick to these strategies:
Time your workout
Early morning is the safest time to exercise outdoors in the heat of summer. Working out after the sun goes down can also reduce your risk, although on some summer evenings, nighttime temperatures can be just as high as midday ones.
Choose the right type of clothing
Wear light colors as they reflect light, and items made from moisture-wicking material, not cotton, which absorbs sweat and feels heavy when saturated. Also, wear as little clothing as possible.
Cut down on intensity
Have a high-intensity workout scheduled? Take it inside. No-can-do? Switch to a shorter, less intense workout, or save your tough session for another day.
Decrease the duration
Take breaks by walking or sitting in the shade as needed to keep your body temperature and heart rate from skyrocketing.
Drink water while you are active, but also, weigh yourself before you exercise outdoors, then again after you are done. Drink enough water to replace what you lost during your activity — one pint of water for every pound you lose.
Numerous brands make light-feeling and sweat-resistant sport sun block formulas that won’t run in your eyes. If you have long hair, wear it up so that the sweat on your neck can better evaporate to keep you cool.
Don’t push it
Exercising in hot weather can sap your endurance and strength your risk for heat-related illnesses, namely heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here are the symptoms to look out for:
• You feel unusually dizzy, fatigued or nauseated.
• You are hyperventilating, irritable or have goose bumps.
• You have a headache, don’t feel in control of your movements or have become forgetful.
If you feel any of these symptoms, stop exercising, find shade or go inside, and sip water or a sports drink. If you don’t feel better within an hour, seek medical attention.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.