How To Avoid Heat Stress While Exercising

Everyone knows we should all exercise, but if you aren't careful there can be complications from a good workout, such as heat stress. Luckily, heat stress can be easily avoided.

The Basics:

Staying hydrated at all times, especially during a strenuous workout or while working out in the heat, is a first line defense against getting overheated. Being well hydrated means drinking water, not just colas and teas. While these beverages do add to hydration, they can also be diuretics, which cause the body to lose water through urination. Pure water is the best way to stay hydrated.

Outdoor Exercise:

If you are exercising outside, wear light colors and a well ventilated hat to shade yourself from the sun. There are many new sports fabrics that aid the body to whisk sweat away from the body and dry easily. Products made with these fabrics can be found at almost any clothing store. Loose clothes in natural fabrics, such as cotton, will allow air to flow and sweat to evaporate, which is how it removes heat from the body's surface. It is best to keep a bottle of water with you at all times during a workout. Runners often wear belts that hold 4 small bottles. Bikers can attach a bottle to the bar between the wheels. There are even backpacks that hold large amounts of water for longer workouts such as a hike or mountain biking.

At Home:

If you work out in your home, adjust the thermostat down in the room where you work out.  Turn the lights off. Get an extra fan to circulate air. Keeping your environment cool and free of extra heat sources will aid in keeping you cool. Keep a small spray bottle of water to mist yourself. If you are new to exercising, you should acclimate yourself by starting out slowly and building up your workout in intensity and length.

Signs and Symptoms:

Signs and symptoms of heat stress can be light-headedness, dizziness, stomach cramps, ceasing to sweat, throbbing headache, weakness, and nausea. If you experience these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and focus on cooling off and hydrating your body. Do not drink a large amount of water immediately, because you make get sick and that will worsen the situation. Rest in a cool, dark place or take a cool bath. Sports drinks can be beneficial in replacing electrolytes, but they are not a substitute for water.


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