The heat is comng, prepare yourself
Exercising or working in hot weather puts extra stress on your heart and lungs. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your body temperature. To dissipate heat, more blood circulates through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which increases your heart rate. If the humidity is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin — which only pushes your body temperature higher.
Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long. The result may be a heat-related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
To keep it cool during hot-weather keep these basic precautions in mind:
- Take it slow. If you’re used to being out in cooler weather, take it easy at first. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the length and intensity of being in the heat.
- 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. I like coconut water in the heat. 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.
- Avoid midday sun. Stay in the shade or in water where possible.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
- Have a backup plan. Have enough supplies to relax and wait until the temperature drops. Never assume you can make it back to safety.
Know when to call it quits
During hot-weather, 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 and into the shade. Drink water, and wet and fan your skin. If you develop a fever higher than 102 F (38.9 C) or become faint or confused, seek immediate medical help.
Don’t let hot-weather put your health at risk.