Are You Ready to Exercise in The Heat?
by Lanny Schaffer, Ph.D
It's still cool out, but summer weather is just around the corner. As the temperature increases, more people move their exercise program outdoors. If the outside temperature is significantly warmer or more humid than what you're used to this could cause serious problems.
Upon exercising in hot weather, your body will attempt to transfer heat from your inner core to the surrounding air. Researchers have found that even in temperatures as low as 60 degrees your body's core can still rise. As your temperature rises, blood moves away from the muscle towards the skin which lowers your exercise capacity.
Exercising outdoors at 90 degress truly stresses the main heat mechanism which at this point is sweating. Look for signs of heat illness such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion during these conditions.
If the core is allowed up to 105 degrees it should be considered a life threatening emergency. If your sweating mechanism shuts down and your skin is hot and dry, you may have heat stroke. This is the most serious of the heat related illnesses.
Adequate intake of fluid’s is the best way to prevent overheating. Water or sports drinks work fine, but sports drinks with too much sugar slow the emptying of the stomach. A good concoction is to mix water and diluted sports drinks. Fluid intake recommendations are:
*Drink 20 oz 2-3 hours before exercising
*10-20 minutes before exercise drink about 10 oz
*During exercise, drink at least 10 oz every 10-20 minutes
* After exercise, drink about 20 oz per lb of weight lost during exercise
You can achieve greater training responses with less energy in hot, humid climates. This is because the heat and humidity naturally raise the heart rate.
Another method to avoid heat related illnesses involves wearing proper clothing. Choose breathable, light weight, fitting clothing that encourages heat and moisture transport. Covering the skin protects you from both radiant heat and sunburn. Hats protect the head and neck.
Humidity can be as much of a problem as heat when it comes to keeping the body cool. Relative humidity affects evaporative cooling. Sweat fails to evaporate in high humidity and thus cooling does not take place. The result is more profuse sweating with a greater danger of dehydration.
If you're an outdoor summer exerciser start training slowly in the heat to allow for adaptions. Cover your body in light, breathable clothing. Remember, it doesn't take as much effort to increase your fitness levels as the heat and high humidity naturally raise heart rate. Finally, drink your fluids as prescribed. If you follow these simple precautions your hot climate workouts will be enjoyable and there will be little chance of having any heat related incidences.
About the Author: Dr. Lanny Schaffer is an Exercise Physiologist and the President of The International Fitness Academy. For more cutting edge fitness information go to http://www.aerobics-exercise-coach.com