There are risks when it comes to exercising in the hot weather and in Texas that means you need to be aware of the risks starting in June. As we approach summer, it is important to think about preventing dehydration and heat-related illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 300 Americans die every year of heat-related illnesses. Most of these could have been prevented if people were aware of the risks and the preventable measures they should have taken.

The Effects of Heat on Your Body

Exercise can put stress on your body. Exercising in the heat puts even more stress on your body. In simplest terms, think about your core body temperature — when you exercise your body temperature increases and when your in hot climates, your body temperature also increases. When these two are combined (exercising in hot climates) it can be dangerous when you don’t take care of yourself. Your body tries to cool itself off by sending more blood to your skin, which means that there is less blood for your muscles and as a result, your heart rate increases.

What Are The Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses

It is important that you understand the different symptoms that you can experience when it comes to heat-related illnesses and understanding that if left untreated or ignored, could leave you in a medical emergency.

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue and/or weakness
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Irritability and/or confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Visual problems

These symptoms may mean you are suffering from a heat-related illness, such as:

  • Heat cramps
  • Heat syncope and exercise-associated collapse
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heatstroke

If you develop any of these symptoms, it is important that you stop exercising immediately, get out of the heat, lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. It may be best to get someone who can help monitor your condition and if your condition worsens or does not get better in 20 minutes then please seek medical help right away. Methodist McKinney Hospital’s Emergency Room is open 24/7 so you can always call 972-569-2709.

In order to cool your core temperature, you can submerge your body in cold water/ice. You can also use a cold towel or ice pack on your neck and forehead to try to cool yourself down.

How To Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses

If you going to exercise in the heat and that’s hard to avoid in Texas, then it is important to know how to best avoid suffering from a heat-related illness:

  1. Watch the temperature. In a world of connectivity, it is easy to stay on top of the latest weather alerts. You can download apps to your smartphone such as The Weather Channel or Yahoo Weather or Hello Weather, in order to know what the weather is expected to be during your planned outdoor activity.
  2. Know your tolerance level. If you’ve been working out indoors and decide out of the blue to take it outside, your body may not be well-adjusted. It can take up to two weeks for your body to get acclimated to your new surroundings so take it easy!
  3. Stay hydrated. Your body sweats in order to cool itself down so staying well-hydrated is key! Water is the healthiest choice, but if you are going to be working out hardcore then you should consider a sports drinks. Sports drinks can help replace what you lose in sweat–sodium, potassium, and chloride.
  4. Dress appropriately. There are so many athletic fashion brands out there that it can be hard to choose what to wear. If you are going to be out in heat then your outfit can still be fashionable, but make sure it is lightweight and breathable. Avoid dark colors and anything too tight as it can make it harder for your body to cool off naturally.  

By taking some precautions and knowing the signs of heat-related illnesses, you can continue to keep up your workout routine even in the Texas heat.

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