We all look forward to the warm days of summer! Sunshine, longer days and warmer weather make spending time outside extra enjoyable. However, for those who like to exercise or work outside, it is important to realize the possible risks.
The higher the heat and humidity, the higher the risk of heat related-illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These conditions require immediate medical attention. Heat stroke can occur without warning and waiting to seek treatment can be fatal. Keep in mind that children have an increased potential for dehydration and heat related illnesses.
If you notice these symptoms after exercising or spending time in the heat, get emergency help right away: trouble breathing; confusion; extreme anxiety; loss of consciousness, very fast or very slow heart rate; a quick rise in body temperature up to 104-106 degrees F; being drenched in sweat while having cold, clammy skin; abnormally decreased sweating along with flushed, hot skin; loss of consciousness or convulsions. Also seek emergency care if symptoms of heat exhaustion such as cramps, nausea, extreme thirst, weakness, or dizziness are not relieved by moving to a cool area and drinking fluids.
Our experts have some simple tips to lower the risk of heat related illnesses:
Hydrate. Before doing any outdoor summer activity, be sure to hydrate. Drink 16 oz. of liquid two hours before exercise and then every 20 minutes during the activity to stay on top of fluid lost due to sweating. Try to drink up to 8 oz of fluid during these intervals but no more than that (too much fluid can lead to hyponatremia). Plain water is fine for up to 40- 60 minutes of exercise. If you plan to do longer, strenuous exercise, consider a sport drink containing sodium, chloride and potassium to replace electrolytes lost due to sweating.
Take it slow. Gradually work up to increased amounts of outdoor exercise in the heat to get your body used to it. Add additional minutes over 10 days to 2 weeks.
Choose proper clothing. Pick outfits that are light-colored, loose-fitting and made from a blend of cotton and polyester or synthetic fabric. These materials help help wick away sweat from the body, allowing for improved cooling of the skin.
Use sunscreen. When skin becomes burned, it decreases the ability to cool itself.
Stick to cooler times of day. Plan to exercise before 10 am and after 7 pm, when there is less heat, humidity and sun.
Try other options. When temperatures are high, look for shady trails or bike paths to avoid the beating sun or consider indoor options at local fitness centers or malls. Swimming is another great choice to get exercise while remaining cool.
Pay attention to your body. If any of the above-mentioned symptoms arise, stop exercising! When the summer heat is intense, use common sense and don’t push yourself to a danger point.