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Healthy Living: Stay out of the heat

We talked a little bit earlier this month about the importance of staying hydrated during these extreme summer temperatures. With Texas temperatures reaching all-time highs, it is getting harder and harder to get anything done outside. For those of you who have active daily exercise routines, this could spell trouble.

Hydration and body regulation is the key! Only you can tell yourself when to keep going and when to throw in the towel, and as far as summer exercising is concerned, it’s not worth a hospital visit. Even a well-conditioned athlete can experience one of several heat-related illnesses if working out too intensely in heat that’s this extreme. Know your limits, and the warning signs of heat illnesses:

Heat cramps: Cramping up during exercises you can normally do with no pain? You might be experiencing heat cramps. This is a painful tightening of muscles, usually in your arms or legs, but sometimes in your glutes or stomach as well. If you think you are experiencing heat-related cramps, it’s important to cool down, by resting in the shade, even if your skin is still cool.

Heat exhaustion: What we sometimes call “heat stroke” is often heat exhaustion, which is serious but not usually life-threatening. The typical symptoms are extreme thirst, dizziness, weakness and nausea. You may also feel a loss in coordination, and your pulse may speed up. Again, if you feel these symptoms, get to a cooler place, drink some cool fluids, and rest; your body is sending you an important signal!

Heat stroke: This is the most serious heat-related illness and can be fatal. If you ignore the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke can occur. A case of heat stroke occurs when your body temperature reaches more than 104 degrees. You may faint, feel confused, have difficulty breathing, and have either a rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse.  If you suspect you or your workout partner may be experience heat stroke, get out of the heat immediately, rest, drink fluids and contact 911!

To avoid heat-related illnesses, try scheduling your outdoor exercises early in the morning, before work, or even later in the evenings. No matter what time of day, hydrate! If you are a busy person like yours truly, and the lunch hour is the only free hour in the day, it would be well worth your time and energy to get a gym membership and utilize indoor fitness facilities, at least until the worst of the summer heat is past.  If biking and running are your main sports, mix things up a bit and try swimming!

I have not only heard some summer horror stories as far as heat related issues are concerned, but I have also treated too many patients myself. So no matter what fitness route you decide to take this summer, be sure to drink as much water as possible and listen to your body!

My slogan is usually “Get out there!” This summer however, I am going to make a slight exception and say, “Get in there!” in regards to the gym!

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