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Exercise Smart When Temperatures are High
Temperatures are at an all time high this summer all over the state of Florida. Whether you like to enjoy a game of beach volleyball with friends or go for a run outside, it is important you approach these activities with serious caution. As we enter into the hottest months of summer, it’s important to be aware of your body and not push yourself too far. If you do not pay attention, you could overexert yourself in heat and humidity, which can lead to heat exhaustion or in severe cases, heat stroke. Here are some important steps to follow to stay healthy while exercising during the summer months:
1. Stay hydrated! The hotter it is, the faster your body loses fluids. It can’t be stressed enough – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! When you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. It’s safest to make it a habit of drinking 4-6 oz. of water every 15 minutes when you are working out hard or exercising in hot temperatures. Also make sure to drink plenty of fluids before and after. Since there is wide variability in sweat rates and hydration levels, it is difficult to provide specific recommendations about the amount of fluids everyone should consume before and after. However, there are two easy methods for estimating the correct amount for an individual:
· Monitor urine output and color. Light colored, diluted urine probably means you’re hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you’re dehydrated.
· Weigh yourself before and after exercise. Any weight loss likely signals a fluid loss, so try to drink enough to replenish the loss. Any weight gain might mean you're drinking more than you need.
2. Restore sodium levels and other lost electrolytes. White marks on your clothing or face after working out come from salt and minerals your body has sweated out. They need to be replaced to help avoid cramps. Also, heavy sodium losses can lead to hypnoatremia, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you are sweating profusely and exercising for more than 90 minutes, consume a sports drink and/or snack on salty foods after your workout. Bananas are another great option for replacing lost electrolytes.
3. Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with SPF 15 or higher and wear a hat that provides shade and allows ventilation. Besides being painful and increasing your risk of skin cancer, sunburn causes fluid loss and decreases your ability to cool yourself.
4. Dress appropriately. Wearing lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothing is best. It's also a good idea to invest in some clothes made with CoolMax®, Drymax®, Smartwool or polypropylene, all of which are made from fibers that have tiny channels that wick the moisture from your skin to the outer layer of the clothing where it can evaporate easily.
5. Adjust to the heat. Your tolerance for exercising in the heat will increase if you adjust to it slowly over one to two weeks. It’s best to exercise early in the morning or later in the evening, avoiding the hottest time of day.
Perhaps most importantly, use your common sense and know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you notice any of the symptoms, immediately stop exercising and cool down by dousing yourself with cold water. If symptoms don’t subside or worsen, seek medical attention. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke quickly, which is life-threatening.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
· Heavy sweating
· Cold, clammy skin
· Dizziness or fainting
· A weak and rapid pulse
· Muscle cramps
· Fast, shallow breathing
· Nausea, vomiting or both
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
· Warm, dry skin with no sweating
· Strong and rapid pulse
· Confusion and/or unconsciousness
· High fever
· Throbbing headaches
· Nausea, vomiting or both
A final note: It is much easier to prevent heat illness than to treat it once symptoms develop.
Source: American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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