How To Stay Safe While Exercising In Extreme Heat

How To Stay Safe While Exercising In Extreme Heat

In case you haven't noticed... it's HOT outside in Chicago (and most of the country)!  I just looked at the heat index and it says that 106 degrees is what it FEELS like out there!  I believe it!  I want to take this opportunity to make sure you know what steps you can take to exercise safely in such hot conditions.  Heat is no joke, and you really need to take care of your body to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke (both serious conditions that you don't want to push yourself to... I've experienced heat exhaustion, personally, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone).

What is HEAT EXHAUSTION?

Heat exhaustion can happen when exercising conditions are very hot.  Signs you are experiencing heat exhaustion include: fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, headache, pale/clammy skin and an increase in body temperature.  You WILL still sweat with heat exhaustion, but it does not help to cool your body's core temperature.

If you or someone you know is experiencing heat exhaustion, get that person immediately to a cool place (the shade or indoors with air conditioning) and drink plenty of cool fluids to bring down the body's core temperature.

What is HEAT STROKE?

Heat stroke is even MORE serious and can lead to death if not cared for and/or recognized.  Symptoms of heat stroke include: a body temperature of 104 degrees or higher, an inability to sweat, dry/flush skin, rapid pulse, confusion, hallucination, acute respiratory distress, and loss of consciousness.

If you or someone you know is experiencing heat stroke (hopefully someone will notice, as you will likely not be able to treat yourself at this point) call 911 immediately!  Move the person to a cool/shady area or into air conditioning and work on cooling their body down.  Remove as much clothing as possible, and apply cool towels or even ice packs.  Emergency services will arrive and assist in helping the person.  Heat stroke is not to be taken lightly.

 

WHAT STEPS CAN YOU TAKE TO AVOID THESE SERIOUS CONDITIONS?

1.) Stay Hydrated!!! Strive to drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during activity.  If you exercise more than 60 minutes, consider a sports drink to replace electrolytes.   Avoid drinking alcohol, pop/soda, coffee, and other sugary beverages that will just add to your dehydration in these hot temperatures (or heck, cut down on those regularly to improve your overall health and body function).

2.) Lower Your Intensity. Sure, you may run circles around people under normal circumstances, but nobody is indestructible... so, take it down a notch.  Your body will already be working harder to try and stay cool, so don't push it past its limits.  Either shorten your workout in length by time, or lessen the amount of energy you output during your exercise (slow your running pace, lift lighter weights, take longer breaks, etc.)

3.) Wear Breathable Clothing. Now is NOT the time to wear something meant to keep heat inside your body (in fact, I'm against wearing anything like that at ALL times, they can be dangerous... i.e. "waist slimming" belts and those tops that look like garbage bags).  Wear clothes that are designed for fitness, that let the body breathe, and you may want to swap the full length pants and tank top for a pair of shorts and a sports bra (or shirtless for guys... just don't forget sunblock if outdoors).  Your body needs to be able to breathe and sweat properly.

4.) Take Rest Breaks. Take longer breaks during your workout... or, if it's really hot, just skip your workout all together... I give you permission!  If you exercise in a house without air conditioning, or outdoors, you may want to just wait until the temperature drops, or go to the gym where you can access a place with air conditioning... most gyms have one-day fees, so even if you aren't a member you can still access their facilities for the day.

5.) Follow Guidelines Set Forth By The Heat Stress Index.

When you go outside to exercise, refer to the heat stress index and consider the associated risks:

  • Below 80° F (27° C): Little or no danger under normal circumstances
  • 80–90° F (27–32° C): Fatigue possible with prolonged exposure
  • 90–105° F (32–41° C): Heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible
  • 105–130° F (41–54° C): Heat cramps and heat exhaustion likely, heatstroke is
    possible
  • Over 130° F (54° C): Heatstroke is imminent

Please be safe in this heat... even if you aren't exercising during this heat wave still make sure you stay hydrated, because heat puts more stress on the body all together.

*These steps come from ACE Fitness (acefitness.org)*

 

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