How can exercising in hot weather affect my body?

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Exercising in hot weather can affect your body. When you exercise, your blood gets pumping to deliver adequate oxygen to your muscles. This leads to a rise in body temperature. When you're getting physical in above-average temperatures, this effect is more intense, because your heart sends large amounts of blood to the skin in an attempt to cool it down and, in turn, leaves less blood in the muscles, further speeding the heart rate.
 
What's more, in humid weather, sweat is sometimes unable to do its job because it doesn't evaporate as efficiently as it does in a drier climate. This may drive body temperatures to dangerous extremes.
 
There are three basic levels of heat-related illness: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. You should be familiar with the signs of each of these conditions so you can identify them when you or someone else may be in danger of overheating.

Exercise in hot and humid weather brings about risk for heat related illness and or heat related death. Prevention of heat related illness is of most importance. Here are some prevention tips to avoid heat-related illness:

1. Stay Hydrated. Thirst alone is a poor indicator of how much water is needed.


● Consume 14 to 22 ounces (1.75 to 2.75 cups) of fluid 2 hours before exercise.
● Drink 6 to 12 ounces of fluid for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.
● Fluids should be cold.
● If exercise exceeds 60 minutes, use of a sports drink (containing up to 8% carbohydrate) can replace both fluid and dwindling muscle glycogen stores.

2. Block UV rays by wearing sunblock and wearing a hat. During the warmer months, you should protect your skin from sunburn or the much more dangerous melanoma. Wear a hat and long sleeved breathable shirts for the best skin protection. However, keep in mind that covering your skin also decreases the ability to the skin to evaporate sweat and increases the susceptibility of heat related illness. Application of quality sunscreen is highly advised. A high SPF does not necessarily mean there is a greater protection against UV rays. Read the back label of the sunscreen and be sure that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for ingredients such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone and Mexoryl SX, as these offer good protection. Lastly, be sure to apply the right amount and re-apply once every 1-2 hours. 


3. Exercise in the early morning hours, and avoid the heat. The worst time to be outside is when the sun is at its highest – between 10AM and 2PM. Don’t let 2PM be the cut off for being outside though – it will typically stay warm and humid beyond that time, especially if you live in a state like Arizona!
Any warning symptoms of heat illness should prompt you to get out of the heat and into some place cool while replacing your fluids. If you experience signs of dizziness, vomiting, nausea seek medical attention or call 911.

Sari Greaves
Nutrition & Dietetics
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your heart and lungs. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your body temperature. To dissipate heat, more blood circulates through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which increases your heart rate. If the humidity is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin -- which only pushes your body temperature higher.

Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long. The result may be a heat-related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.