request info email to friend
Take Care When Exercising in Extreme Heat
Exercise should be challenging. Your body temperature should rise, and you should sweat during a workout. But what if you are exercising outdoors in hot weather? What changes should you make to stay safe in the heat while also having a productive workout? The Cleveland Clinic offers some guidance.
If you do your normal indoor workout outside in the heat, you’ll notice a difference in how your body responds. Working out in the heat demands more energy, which can make you get tired more quickly. That’s because your muscles are working hard, and your skin also is working hard to cool your body. That puts more demand on your blood supply, which can make you feel fatigue more quickly.
When you start working out in the heat, give your body a chance to adjust -- which can take up to 10 days. During the first three to five days, your cardiovascular system adapts. However, it can take up to 10 days for your body to adjust its ability to sweat.
Even when you have acclimated, you should reduce the intensity and length of your workouts in extreme heat, especially with high humidity. You also can incorporate activities that provide cooling, such as swimming and cycling. Exercise in the morning or evening, when temperatures are lower; don’t try to have a high-intensity workout in the middle of the day.
Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothes in light colors; dark colors soak up the sun. And make sure to drink enough liquid. You should drink non-caffeinated liquids at least every 15 minutes. If you start to feel dehydrated, stop exercising and grab a drink. Dehydration can lead to problems from cramps to heat stroke.
It is important to know the warning signs of heat-related issues, including:
Cramps. This is often the first sign of dehydration. Stop exercising, stretch and massage the cramp, and drink lots of fluids. Wait at least a few hours after the cramps go away to resume exercise.
Heat exhaustion. You might feel very tired or experience dizziness, trouble breathing, vomiting or fainting. Your skin might feel cold and clammy, and your pulse might be fast and shallow. If this happens, get out of the heat and drink liquids.
Heat stroke. This is a potentially fatal condition, so seek medical attention immediately if you have a temperature of more than 104, feel disoriented or have a rapid pulse and flushed skin.
Finally, be sensible. Sometimes the risks of working out outside are not worth the rewards. Of course each person’s limits depend in part on their age, fitness level and how they handle heat. Also important is the combination of temperature and humidity. But in general, if the temperature and humidity are both over 80 or if the temperature is very high, even with lower humidity, you probably should take your workout into an air-conditioned gym.