SAFETY TIPS FOR EXERCISING IN HOT WEATHER
There is no time of year that an individual cannot exercise. However, the impact of warm weather on exercise is different from cooler weather. Exercising in warm weather requires more energy which can lead to fatigue and its effects. Even when your routine does not change, the effect of warm or hot weather makes the same exercise much more difficult.
Exercising in hot weather affect the body by putting extra stress on the heart and lungs. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your body temperature. The rise in body temperature occurs as your blood gets pumping to deliver adequate oxygen to your muscles. The effect is more intense in a hot weather because your heart sends large amount of blood to the skin in an attempt to cool it down and, in turn, leaves less blood in the muscle, further speeding the heart rate. If the humidity is high, your body faces added stress because sweat does not readily evaporate from the skin – which only pushed body temperature higher or to dangerous extremes. Giving attention to the following safety tips will guard against experiencing the hazards that could happen when exercising in humid condition.
1. Be aware that heat has an impact on exercise – Exercising vigorously in hot and humid weather can be challenging and even dangerous, hence the need to put extra caution in place to exercise safely. Increased external temperature affects the blood supply between the active muscles used in the exercise and the skin working to cool the body. Keeping your body hydrated during exercise helps replace the water lost from sweating and prevents fatigue and poor physical performance.
2. Allow your body to adjust to the heat – This is not the time to increase the intensity of your workout. It is generally advised that exercise intensity is scaled down in hot weather to allow the body to adjust to the demands of working in humid condition.
3. Dress Appropriately – What you wear matter when exercising in heat. Light-coloured, sweat-wicking clothing is best for hot weather; dark, heavy clothes can make you even hotter. Wearing loose-fitting clothing will allow air to circulate and protect you from the sun. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
4. Adequate Hydration – When the weather heats up, make sure you drink enough fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated. You can also indulge in water-rich foods including crisp lettuce, watermelon, grapefruit, broccoli, and tomatoes. It is advisable not to drink juices or sodas during exercise, because these drinks contain more than 10% carbohydrates (sugar) and are not absorbed well during exercise. The easiest way to stay hydrated is to always have water with you and not wait until you feel thirsty which is a sign of dehydration.
Drinking enough water each day is crucial as it helps to regulate body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly.
5. Watch out for danger signs. Exposure to high temperature and humidity for too long can cause increased sweating, potentially leading to dehydration and reduce exercise performance. Severe dehydration may result in heat-related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Knowing the warning signs of heat-related illness can reduce the risk of becoming a victim.
- Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps that occur during exercise or work in hot or humid weather. They are often associated with extensive dehydration or electrolytes imbalance. Heat cramps usually affect the major muscles that are being stressed in hot environment. These are the thigh and leg (hamstring, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius), the core muscles (abdominals and back) and the arms (biceps and triceps). Cramps are usually the first sign you are overdoing it and need a break. If you feel spasms in your muscle during your workout, gently stretch and massage the affected muscle and replenish your fluids
- Heat exhaustion – Heat exhaustion can develop in people after several days of exposure to high temperatures, and who do not drink enough fluids. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, dry tongue and thirst, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, and headache. The pulse may be slow and weak. If someone is developing heat exhaustion, you should move him or her out of the sun right away and into a cool place. Remove any extra layers of clothing and give the person water or a sports drink to replenish the body’s lost fluids. If the person does not feel better after an hour, seek medical attention.
- Heat stroke– Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness that needs immediate medical condition. Symptoms include a temperature greater than 104 degrees and feeling disoriented and confused, rapid, weak pulse, dry, hot skin (no sweating), seizure and unconsciousness. Emergency services should be called immediately for anyone with signs of heat stroke.
It is okay to be able to exercise all year round regardless of the weather condition. But it is particularly important to make mental adjustment and changes to workout regime that will help the body adjust safely to warm-weather workout