Whether you are exercising in warm weather or in a steamy gym, overheating can put you at risk for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heatstroke.
Factors such as high temperatures, high humidity, dehydration, and wearing the wrong clothes can also increase your risk for heat-related illnesses or injuries. Children, older adults and people with certain health conditions are all at an increased risk. That’s why it’s important to regularly practice exercise safety and do everything you can to keep your body cool.
How Heat Affects Your Body
Sweating is your body’s natural cooling system. When you exercise, your cooling system has to work harder. Your body sends more blood to your skin and away from your muscles, thus increasing your heart rate.
As a result, other parts of your body may not get enough blood. This can make you feel tired, sluggish, confused or dizzy. If your body’s cooling system does not have enough time to work efficiently, it can cause heat-related issues illnesses and injuries that can sometimes be hard to recover from. Signs of heat-related illnesses/injuries can include:
- Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating; pale and clammy skin; weakness/tiredness; lightheadedness; headache; nausea
- Heatstroke: Body temperature over 104°F; hot, dry skin; rapid pulse; loss of consciousness; rapid, shallow breathing; seizures
- Dehydration: Extreme thirst; dry tongue or mouth; dizziness; lightheadedness
Tips to Avoid Overheating
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing or moisture-wicking fabrics.
- Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol, which dehydrate you, before exercise.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout. Water is preferable for less-intense workouts. For longer periods of exercise, consider a low-sugar sports drink that also replaces lost salts and minerals.
- Take your workout outdoors on less humid/hot days, or in the mornings and evenings. You can also just take your workout indoors.
- Wear a ball cap, sunglasses and sunscreen for protection.
- Rest often and don’t over-exert yourself. It can do more harm than good.
Stay safe in the heat and take care of yourself, especially when exercising!