Blog #30 Exercising in the Heat

Summer is here in Chicago, YES! For those of you who exercise outside here’s what you need to know. 

When exercising outside you must consider the air temperature and the relative humidity, and how those will affect your core temperature.

As you exercise, your body is staying cool by releasing the heat through your skin by sweating. That means more blood is going to your skin and less to your working muscles.  As a result, your heart has to work harder to deliver more blood to those areas.  When the humidity is high, your sweat isn’t evaporated as much causing your core body temperature to rise.

For most people your body amazingly adapts to these conditions but, if you do not hydrate properly and/or exercise too long heat related illnesses can occur.

Symptoms of Heat related illnesses

  • Muscles cramps 
  • Lightheadedness and/or fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure

If you experience any of these symptoms stop exercising and get hydrated. It’s imperative to lower your body temperature.  Take a cool wet towel and place it around your neck.  Drink a sports drink, such as Gatorade, to replenish your electrolytes.  If you do not feel better within 20 minutes seek medical attention.

Actions to Prevent Heat Related Illness:

  • Avoid exercising during the hottest times of the day. Best time is early morning or early evening.
  • Bring plenty of water with you and drink it.
  • When it’s just starting to get warmer out, don’t exercise as long or hard.  Allow your body a few weeks to get use to the change in the weather.
  • Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing and lighter colors. Wear a wide brim, light colored hat.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen.
  • Know your fitness level and medical conditions before you venture out.
  • If in doubt have a plan B.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have specific questions.

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