SAN DIEGO—It’s summertime and many people are taking advantage of the warm weather by running outdoors. But, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the heat may beat them before they have the chance to finish the first mile. Only fifteen minutes into a run, a person’s body temperature could be as high as 5° F above normal and continuing could bring on fatigue and heat illness.
Strategies To Protect Yourself From Heat Illness
Drinking enough fluid, whether it be water or a sports drink, is imperative for exercising in hot or humid weather. Maintenance of body fluids is essential to maintaining proper body temperature. Sweat dispels heat through skin. If people let their bodies become dehydrated, it will be much more difficult to perform even the lightest of workouts. But people shouldn’t wait until they’re thirsty to start replenishing those fluids. Chances are, by the time they’re actually thirsty, their bodies are well on their way to becoming severely dehydrated.
ACE recommends the following strategies to help prevent heat illness:
Fluid replenishment before, during and after exercise is essential to avoid progressive dehydration. Always consume more fluids than you think you need before and after exercise, and strive to drink 6 to 8 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.
2. Exercise Intensity
Reduce the intensity of your workout, especially the first few times you are exposed to higher temperatures.
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.
Physical training and heat acclimation can increase your
blood volume, helping to regulate body temperature more
effectively. The acclimatization process can be completed
in seven to 14 days of repeated heat exposure. However,
you must always continue to drink fluids before, during
and after exercise.
Wear minimal clothing to provide greater skin surface area for heat dissipation. Your clothing should be lightweight, loose fitting, light colored to reflect the sun's rays, and of a material that absorbs water, such as cotton.
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.
For free information on additional summer health and fitness topics, log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation's "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world's largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.
**A graphic of the Heat Stress Index can be found in the ACE image library by registering for the “media only” section of the ACE Web site at http://www.acefitness.org/media/media_login.cfm.