|Wellness Center provides exercise, hot weather tips|
Exercise and hot weather can be a dangerous mix. Take precautions against heat-related illnesses and make your outdoor workout safer and more enjoyable.
When the weather turns warm, it's great to be active outside. But when it gets really hot and humid, be careful. Exercising in the heat can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion and potentially deadly heatstroke. A few safeguards can help you avoid these problems. The American College of Sports Medicine says drinking plenty of fluids, wearing the right clothes and exercising at the right time of day are among the best ways to beat the heat.
You need to drink enough water, sports drinks or fruit juices before, during and after exercise, even if you don't feel thirsty. Fluids help your body perspire, which cools the skin and keeps body temperatures at a safe level. Avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps.
How much fluid is enough? ACSM says to aim for:
-20 ounces of fluid two to three hours before exercise.
-10 ounces of fluid 10 to 20 minutes before exercise.
-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
-20 ounces of fluid for every pound of weight lost during exercise.
If your urine is clear or pale, you're probably drinking enough fluids.
The American Council on Exercise and other experts list these additional strategies to help you stay cool:
-Reduce your workout intensity, particularly the first few times you're in warmer temperatures. It usually takes seven to 14 days to get acclimated.
-Take advantage of the coolest times of the day. Before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. is generally the best time for an outdoor workout.
-Don't overdress. Exposed skin cools faster than covered skin. Clothing should be lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting. A hat is a good idea.
-Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outside to prevent a sunburn, which limits the body's ability to cool itself. Reapply according to the directions on the package.
-Keep track of the "heat index," the temperature your body feels when heat and humidity are combined. A heat index of 90 or higher can be dangerous. (For more information about the heat index, go to www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/heat.php.)
Watch for warning signs:
Symptoms of heat sickness include headache, dizziness, muscle weakness, cramps and nausea. If you develop these symptoms during or after exercise, rest in a cool place, take a cool shower or bath, and drink about half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. If symptoms last for more than an hour or get worse, get medical attention.
If you're with someone who shows signs of serious heat sickness, get help right away. Signs may include refusing water, vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness, a body temperature above 103 degrees, hot skin with no sweating and a rapid pulse. While you're waiting for help to arrive, get the person into the shade and cool him or her down with a spray or sponge of cool water.
Information provided by Blue Cross, Blue Shield of North Dakota, www.bcbsnd.com.
-- Wellness Center.