The Running Doctor: Tips for exercising in the heat
The summer temperatures came on fast. Summer activities, whether running, bicycling, playing tennis, baseball, volleyball or badminton, or any other outside exercise, can be hazardous as there is the danger of dehydration.
Sweat is the body’s cooling system and when we are physically active in the heat, we can lose as much as two quarts of fluid in an hour. If one continues to exercise without adequate cooling, our body temperature rises. An elevation in body temperature may trigger heat illness such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion. A dangerously high body temperature of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to heat stroke.
Heat cramps will usually affect the stomach, arms, and calf muscles. Heat exhaustion will produce dizziness, headaches, nausea, rubbery legs, weak but rapid pulse and possibly fainting.
When the blood temperature rises more than a couple of degrees, the brain begins to “bake” resulting in heat stroke, which will cause a sense on confusion, loss of muscle control and unconsciousness. When the body reaches the dangerously high temperature of 104 degrees, it is a medical emergency and one should seek professional medical attention immediately.
However, as prevention is always better than treatment, the following are some prevention guidelines:
Exercise in the cool morning or evening hours---avoid midday heat.
Drink plenty of fluids before and during exercise.
Drink cold liquids as they pass into your system faster than ice-cold or warm fluids and they also cool body temperature.
Let your body acclimate itself to the heat and humidity for five to seven days before any competitive events.
Recognize the signs — hot, dry skin and rapid pulse.
Heat injury can be avoided if you follow the preventative guidelines and learn to recognize the body’s warning signs.
Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 marathons. For more information go to www.facebook.com/drrobertweiss