Stay Cool Exercising in the Heat

By Christine Emery

While you’re exercising outside this summer, remember to stay cool!

If you are exercising during a heat wave, it is important to pay attention to some signs and symptoms either you or a personal training client might be experiencing. The following list provides a few examples of symptoms to look out for: “muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, fatigue, headache, excessive sweating, dizziness or lightheadedness, confusion, irritability, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, and visual problems” (1).

If you begin to experience any of these symptoms while exercise outdoors, it is very possible that you are experiencing a heat illness, such as one of the following (based on severity of symptoms from low to high) (1,2):

  • Heat cramps – pain or spasms in your muscles with heavy sweating
  • Fainting – sensation of light headedness and/or syncope that occurs post exercise and may commonly occur with a sudden stop of exercise without a cool down period
  • Heat Exhaustion – an increase in body temperature, but does not get higher than 103⁰, symptoms resemble what was listed above
  • Heatstroke – when the body temperature increases pasts 103⁰ and is a serious medical emergency. In this situation, call 911 right away.

It is important to know, that if you begin to notice any signs or symptoms of a heat illness, be sure to increase your intake of fluid right away and do your best to lower your body temperature (step away to a shady place on the trail, stop exercising, etc.). You can also remove any excess clothing or sports equipment that could be hindering your ability to decrease your body temperature (an over shirt, a helmet, body pads, etc.). In addition, if you have access to it,  place a wet towel or ice pack on your “neck, forehead, and under your arms” (1). Keep in mind, that if your symptoms are not suppressed in about twenty minutes, it is strongly recommended to seek additional medical care. In the case of a heatstroke, it is important to notice emergencies services as soon as possible. (1, 2).

Thankfully, there are easy ways to try to avoid any of the heat illnesses that were mentioned above! While you are exercising outdoors, be sure to stay hydrated, dress appropriately (loose clothing), avoid exercising outside at the hottest time of the day, understand your fitness capacity and if you have any medical conditions that would increase your risk, and, when in doubt, have a backup plan for another way to stay active that avoids being outside in the sun (i.e. going to the gym or taking a fitness class). (1, 2).

With these helpful tools, there’s no need to stop exercising outside this summer! Know the precautions, risks, and successful ways to prevent against any heat illness and you’ll be good to go out and get ‘em!

Resources:
(1) http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in- depth/exercise/art-20048167

(2) https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html

About the Author:
A native to the Bay Area, Christine graduated on the dean’s list with a B.S. degree in Health and Human Sciences from Loyola Marymount University in 2013. Soon after, she moved back up north from Los Angeles and joined the BaySport Preventive Medical team. She really appreciates BaySport’s dedication to detail in making every patient’s experience as enjoyable as possible while also educating them on ways to improve their lifestyle. As a current graduate student at San Francisco State University, she is now working on her thesis to determine if there is a trend within the Bay Area for certain ethnicities to have higher lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose) values along with other measurements such as body mass index and blood pressure. During her off-time, Christine is an avid supporter and fan of Bay Area sports and she loves to play golf with her family when she can. She also likes to travel down to Los Angeles frequently to visit friends.

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