Exercising in the Heat and Humidity


MERCY GENERAL HEALTH PARTNERS, BLAIR MOREAU - Performing physical activity in the heat and humidity can cause health problems to any individual. In high heat and humid conditions perspiration, the bodies way to cool itself, does not evaporate efficiently so it becomes difficult for the body to regulate its temperature. It is possible to exercise on hot humid days but take precautions.

1. Makes sure you are properly hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your exercise routine. Have cold water available to you during the exercise program. Consider a sports drink if the bout is going to last greater than an hour.

2. Acclimate your body. Start slow, keep at the lower end of your intensity level and allow extra time for warm up and cool down.

 3. Use the 10am to 7pm rule. Exercise before 10 am or after 7 pm. Avoid exercise or strenuous activity during the heat of the day.

4. Exercise indoors in a climate controlled environment, when able.

5. Dress in light colored clothing, it reflects heat better where dark color clothing absorbs heat.

6. Wear poly-cotton fiber blends, allow for better evaporation of sweat.

7. Use oil free sunscreen. Go with a waterproof sport sunscreen, so it does not interfere with the cooling mechanism of the body.

 8. Cool shower afterwards to help bring body temperature to normal.

9. Always check with your healthcare professional before starting.

Recognize the dangers of exercising in heat and humid conditions

Heat Cramps: Muscle cramps, especially the legs. Develops because of a brief imbalance in body salts. Cramps become less frequent as one becomes acclimated to the summer conditions.

Heat Fainting: Occurs because of a quick drop in blood pressure due to fluid loss. Start your routine slow so the body acclimates to the heat.

Heat Exhaustion: Dizziness and weakness develops due to a loss of fluid and salt through increased perspiration. A rise in body temp, but not above 102 degrees. Drink plenty of water and take it easy. In some cases hospitalization is recommended.

Heatstroke: Body has lost the ability to cool itself. Body temp increases to 105 degrees or higher. Very serious and life threatening condition. Symptoms are lethargy, confusion and unconsciousness. Seek medical attention immediately even if there is a suspicion of heatstroke. Heatstroke can kill.