on June 8, 2011
Wow- we went from cold to really hot in just a few short days and it’s a bit of a shock to the system! I love hot weather but exercising in the heat can put more stress on your heart and lungs. Exercising and the air temp will increase your body temperature. This causes more blood to circulate through your skin, leaving less blood for your muscles, which increases your heart rate. Plus- the humidity is high so your sweat doesnt evaporate as quickly, which pushes you body temp even higher.
Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail in the 90-100 degree temps we have been experiencing. If you don’t prepare for the heat you might end up suffering from heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
That being said, I just got back from a 45 minute bike ride and it felt great! I was sweating like crazy but stayed hydrated so it was really fun. Disclaimer- I love hot and humid weather! If hot weather isn’t really your thing…here are a few tips to stay cool.
Take it slow. If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts. If you have a chronic medical condition or take medication, ask your doctor if you need to take additional precautions.
Drink plenty of fluids. Your body’s ability to sweat and cool down depends on adequate rehydration. Drink plenty of water while you’re working out — even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, which actually promote fluid loss.
Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loosefitting clothing promotes sweat evaporation and cooling by letting more air pass over your body. Cotton is the worst in hot weather, it’s like wearing a wet towel- look for the new sta-dri fabrics that wick the sweat away and dry quickly. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb the heat. A light-colored hat can limit your exposure to the sun.
Avoid midday sun. Exercise in the morning or evening — when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors — rather than the middle of the day. If possible, exercise in the shade or in a pool.
Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
Have a backup plan. If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building. It’s freezing cold in Festival Foods, take a few laps before you shop!
Know when to call it quits
During hot-weather exercise, be on the lookout for heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
If you suspect a heat-related illness, stop exercising and get out of the heat. Drink water, and wet and fan your skin. If you don’t feel better within 60 minutes, contact your doctor. If you develop a fever higher than 102 F or become faint or confused, seek immediate medical help.
Regular physical activity is important — but don’t let hot-weather workouts put your health at risk. Just don’t use it as an excuse to sit in the house and stuff yourself with ice cream!