Exercising in Hot Weather
Beat the Heat!
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.
- Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions. 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.
- Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F (40 C), and you may experience signs and symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this 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 hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool itself. If your heatstroke occurs during exercise in hot, humid weather, you may continue to sweat for a short time after exercising.If you develop signs and symptoms including confusion, irritability, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, nausea, visual problems and fatigue. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.
When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:
- Watch the temperature
- Get acclimated
- Know your fitness level
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Dress appropriately
- Avoid midday sun
- Wear sunscreen
- If you plan to exercise over an hour, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the electrolytes you lose through sweating.
Exercising in the heat can improve your fitness level. Heat-related illnesses are generally preventable by taking a few basic precautions. Be mindful of your body and stop exercising if you begin to have symptoms of heat-related illness. Pace yourself, allow your body to acclimate to the hot temperatures, and always drink plenty of fluids before and after you exercise.