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Keeping Cool When the Weather is Hot

(Published in the Broomfield Enterprise)

It's summertime and you head outside to exercise, before your session is over, your body feels like it is on fire from the heat.  It's not your imagination. Fifteen minutes into your run and your body temperature could be as high as 5° F above normal.

This doesn't have to happen. Drinking enough fluid, whether water or a sports drink, is imperative for exercising in hot or humid weather.  Keeping you body fluid levels high enough is essential to maintaining proper body temperature. The evaporation of sweat takes heat away from your skin. That’s why letting yourself become dehydrated makes it so much more difficult to perform even the lightest of workouts.

Don't wait until you're thirsty to start drinking, especially in the summer. By the time you actually feel thirsty; your body is well on its way to becoming dehydrated.

Here are some tips to help you beat the summer heat.

Fluids:  Drink more than you think you need before and after exercise, and strive to drink six to eight ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.

Clothing:  Wear less clothing to provide a greater skin surface area for perspiration to evaporate. Your clothing should be lightweight, loose fitting, light colored to reflect the sun's rays.

Fitness:  Becoming acclimated to the heat through training can increase your blood volume, helping to regulate body temperature more effectively. Interestingly, the acclimatization process can be completed in 7 to 14 days of repeated heat exposure. But, you should always continue to drink fluids before, during and after exercise.

Exercise Intensity:  Reduce the intensity of your workout, particularly the first few times you are exposed to higher temperatures.

Temperature:  Use the heat stress index table to determine the risk of exercising at various combinations of temperature and humidity. While a 90° F outdoor temp is relatively safe at 10 percent humidity, the heat stress of 90° F at 50 percent humidity is the equivalent of 96° F. When the heat stress index rises above 90° F, you may want to consider postponing your exercise session until later in the day. Or, plan ahead, and beat the day's heat by working out early in the morning.

Heat sensation risk of heat injury

  • 90° - 105° Possibility of heat cramps
  • 105° - 130° Heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely. Heat stroke possible.
  • 130°+ Heat stroke a definite risk.
Rest:  Know when to say 'no' to exercise. Using common sense is your best bet for preventing heat stress when Mother Nature turns up the heat.