Summer weather brings the opportunity for fun outdoor activities, but it also brings challenges to even the most experienced of runners as heat and humidity can add an extra level of intensity. Warmer temperatures pose health threats to those who prefer outdoor runs or exercising — and heat exhaustion or heat stroke can turn a great outdoor run into a medical emergency if precautions aren’t taken. Below are the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
- Heat exhaustion: occurs when a person cannot sweat enough to cool the body
- Symptoms: dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache, vomiting, blurred vision, 101 degree body temperature, sweating, thirst, difficulty speaking
- Heat stroke: results from untreated heat exhaustion
- Symptoms: sweating, body temperature above 101 degrees, confusion, loss of consciousness or seizure
Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be prevented by taking precautions while exercising on hot days. Prevention is not one-size-fits-all, so it is important to pay attention to your body and the specific signals it sends. Below are general guidelines to stay safe while running in the heat:
- Stay hydrated. A general rule of thumb is men should drink roughly 13 cups of fluid per day, and women should drink nine cups of fluid per day, however, these numbers vary from person to person depending on factors like activity level and the climate you are training in. During the summer months, it is important to replenish fluids lost to extra perspiration while training in hot weather. Consider carrying a water bottle while out on runs, and plan routes that have water stations along the way.
- Dress for the weather. When training outside, make sure to wear lightweight, breathable clothing. Lightweight materials help skin breathe while exercising, and some materials are even moisture-wicking meaning they help to pull sweat away from the skin.
- Stay indoors. For those who prefer training outdoors, try to avoid training between 10am and 4pm when possible – those are the hottest hours of the day. Also consider switching to training indoors in air-conditioned spaces on especially hot days. Indoor gyms, treadmills, and indoor tracks are substitutes for running outdoors.
- Eat light. Replace heavy meals with lighter, more refreshing foods especially before running or exercising. Fruits and vegetables are great options for lighter meals and snacks during the summer months.
- Think cool. Cool showers after exercise, cold compresses on pressure points, or taking a break in the shade are simple ways to help cool off during or after exercising in the heat. Try to plan running routes around spaces with shade for breaks especially during longer runs on hot days.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.
For more information, contact Liz Greer at firstname.lastname@example.org