As summer gets into full swing don’t skip your workout because of the heat.  Follow these steps to exercise in hot weather.  The first thing you may want to do during the heat of the summer may be to skip your workout and stay inside enjoying the air conditioning.  Although this may be a good time for you to give your body a well needed break and extra time to recover, you can still perform an intense workout safely.

Hot weather places added stress on the body which can cause some serious medical problems.  The two factors that affect your core body temperature are exercising and air temperature.  As your body begins to create heat (energy) it sends more blood to the surface to circulate through your skin to help cool itself off.  This process gives less blood to your working muscles causing an increase in your heart rate.

How does your body cool itself off when getting heated?  Performing an exercise or adding stress to your body causes you to sweat.  This is the first step to the cooling off process.  The outside air then moves across the moistened skin cooling of the surface.  As the surface cools the body sends more blood to the skin in order to bring the temperature down.  As the sweat (moisture) begins to evaporate it cools the blood which in turn recycles through the body helping to bring your core temperature down.  Under normal conditions your blood vessels, skin, and perspiration levels adjust to the heat.  If your exposed to high temperatures, humidity, or do not drink enough fluids these systems fail.  The failure of this very important system can have devastating effects on your health.

Some of the heat related issues that can arise if you do not take the proper prelusions can be: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion results from inadequate blood that returns to the heart from competition for blood between the muscles and skin. Although core temperature may be evaluated somewhat [usually less than 39.5°C (103.1°F)], it does not reach the extremely high level seen in heat stroke [greater than 41°C (105.8°F)].  Heat Stroke is caused by the failure of the sweating center which causes your body temperature to rise quickly.  Heat stroke is characterized by hot dry skin, dizziness, and/or loss of consciousness.  In exercise related heat stroke the person may still be sweating so it is important to evaluate the person completely.  Anyone showing signs of heat stroke should be packed in ice and transported to an emergency room immediately.

Follow these tips to safely and effectively exercise in extremely hot conditions.

  • Ensure that athletes are in good physical condition. There should be a gradual increase in intensity and duration of training until the athlete fully acclimatizes.
  • Schedule practice sessions and games during cooler times of the day.
  • Modify or cancel exercise sessions when the wet bulb globe temperature reaches or exceeds 25.5C. Wet bulb temperature determines humidity and globe temperature indicates radiant heat.
  • Plan for regular water breaks.
  • Supply a cold drink (8°C to 13°C) low in sugar (less than 8 grams per 100 ml), and containing a small amount of electrolytes.
  • Encourage athletes to “tankup” before practice or games by drinking 400 to 600 ml of water 30 minutes before activity.
  • Encourage fluid replacement during the early stages of practice and competition. As exercise progresses, water absorption from the gut decreases.
  • Weigh athletes every day before practice. Any athlete showing a decrease in weight of 3% or more should not be allowed to participate until they rehydrate. People who tend to lose considerable weight in the heat should be identified and closely monitored.
  • Do not use salt pills. Encourage athletes to consume ample amounts of salt at mealtime.
  • Discourage wearing of rubberized “sauna suits” to reduce weight. Emphasize attaining an optimal body composition for the sport.

Exercising in extremely hot weather can be dangerous if certain precautions are not followed.  For those who do not acclimate themselves to the climate they live in should take the opportunity to take a well-deserved break.  For those who have prepared themselves for training during hot temperatures can still benefit from their training and can continue their activities during the hot summer months.


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