Exercising in the Heat – Take Precautions!

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The summer time is great for getting outdoors for exercise but it is also important for us to be aware of the temperatures outside. According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) site:

How Heat Affects the Body Human
Human bodies dissipate heat by varying the rate and depth of blood circulation, by losing water through the skin and sweat glands, and-as the last extremity is reached-by panting, when blood is heated above 98.6 degrees. The heart begins to pump more blood, blood vessels dilate to accommodate the increased flow, and the bundles of tiny capillaries threading through the upper layers of skin are put into operation. The body's blood is circulated closer to the skin's surface, and excess heat drains off into the cooler atmosphere. At the same time, water diffuses through the skin as perspiration. The skin handles about 90 percent of the body's heat dissipating function.

Sweating, by itself, does nothing to cool the body, unless the water is removed by evaporation, and high relative humidity retards evaporation. The evaporation process itself works this way: the heat energy required to evaporate the sweat is extracted from the body, thereby cooling it. Under conditions of high temperature (above 90 degrees) and high relative humidity, the body is doing everything it can to maintain 98.6 degrees inside. The heart is pumping a torrent of blood through dilated circulatory vessels; the sweat glands are pouring liquid-including essential dissolved chemicals, like sodium and chloride onto the surface of the skin. [Source: noaawatch.gov]

Dangerous Temperatures to Workout In
Heat / Humidity:

86° / 90%
88° / 80%
90° / 70%
92° / 60%
94° / 55%
96° / 45%
98° / 40%

You can see the entire chart here.

I know people who love to run in the heat but I am not one of them. I much rather stay indoors on a treadmill. The last time I ran in the heat, I didn't feel good at all. I promised myself I wouldn't do it again. If you do exercise in the heat, at least take some precautions:

  • Check the temperature
  • Wear lightweight clothing (clothes that wick away sweat)
  • Exercise very early in the day or very late at night
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don't push yourself too hard
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