Mercury’s Rising, And So Is The Risk Of Health Related Issues When The Heat Index Is Up!

We all have been waiting for the summer to get here and now that it is here you may want to dial back your exercising if you're not doing it in a controlled space like a gym or climate controlled training facility. After all, with the summer also comes the humidity and that intense sun that drives up the temperature along with the ambient heat index. Both of which can cause some serious problems if you’re not watching out for them.

Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don't take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature and humidity can increase your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This causes the heart to pump faster and for the blood to start rushing through your veins. If you’re not in good physical condition to start with, you need to dial back your exercising a bit in order to reduce that extra stress your heart is going to be facing. This time of year, most ER's see increasing patients brought in to them with heart-related conditions brought on by overexertion in the extreme heat.

And that myth that the more you sweat means your burning more calories is just that, a MYTH! Sweat is not a gauge of how hard you are working," Scott says. (Jenny Scott, MM-HR, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS, Education Advisor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine) "Our bodies produce sweat as a way to cool down, so if anything, it's an indicator of how hot your body is. And hotter core temperatures don't equal more calories burned.

In fact, the fitter you are, the less you probably sweat. "As your body becomes more conditioned, it takes more intense exercise to increase your core body temperature and produce sweat," she says.

Still, if you're a hot, sweaty mess 10 minutes into your workout, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not fit. Different people have different numbers of sweat glands, so even a brisk walk to the mailbox can trigger sweat production in some women. On the flip side, if you're working hard and hardly sweating, you might be super-fit, blessed with minimal sweat glands, or dehydrated. After all, sweating depends on having water to spare.

To keep your tank full, Scott recommends downing about 24 ounces of water (that's about how much most sports bottles fit) before your warm-up and drinking about 8 more every 30 minutes throughout your sweat session. Keep sipping throughout the day, and keep in mind that if you feel thirsty, you're probably already dehydrated.

It’s important to realize that a climbing heat index needs to be taken into consideration when your exercising. Whether you're running, playing a pickup game of basketball or going for a power walk, take care when the temperature rises. If you exercise outdoors in hot weather.

To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn't readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Heat-related illness
Heat cramps
Heat exhaustion

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, you sweat heavily, and you don't drink enough fluids.

The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated. Heat illnesses include:

Heat cramps: Heat cramps, sometimes called exercise-associated muscle cramps, are painful muscle contractions that can occur with exercise. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. You may feel muscle pain or spasms. Your body temperature may be normal.

Heat syncope and exercise-associated collapse: Heat syncope is a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting caused by high temperatures, often occurring after standing for a long period of time or standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time. Exercise-associated collapse is feeling lightheaded or fainting immediately after exercising, and it can occur especially if you immediately stop running and stand after a race or a long run.

Heat exhaustion: With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F (40 C), and you may experience nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, fainting, sweating and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.

Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). Your skin may be dry from lack of sweat, or it may be moist.

You may develop confusion, irritability, headache, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, visual problems, and fatigue. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.

Pay attention to warning signs
During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. If you ignore these symptoms, your condition can worsen, resulting in a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms may include:

Muscle cramps
Nausea or vomiting
A headache
Excessive sweating
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Low blood pressure
Increased heart rate
Visual problems

If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated right away. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition.

Measuring core body temperature with a rectal thermometer is essential to accurately determine the degree of heat injury. An oral, ear or forehead thermometer doesn't provide an accurate temperature reading for this purpose. In cases of heatstroke, due to confusion and mental status changes, you won't be able to treat yourself and you'll require emergency medical care. The most effective way of rapid cooling is the immersion of your body in a cold- or ice-water tub.

In cases of heat exhaustion, remove extra clothing or sports equipment. Make sure you are around people who can help you and assist in your care. If possible, fan your body or wet down your body with cool water.

You may place cool, wet towels or ice packs on your neck, forehead and under your arms, spray yourself with water from a hose or shower, or sit in a tub filled with cold water. Drink fluids such as water or a sports drink. If you don't feel better within about 20 minutes, seek emergency medical care.

Keeping an eye out for any of the above signs will give you a heads up to take the necessary steps to get your core body temperature down. But another good way to stay on top of your body’s stress while exercising in warmer temperatures is to keep an eye on your heart rate as well. One good way to do this is with a good Heart Rate Monitor, one like the Garmin Vivosport GPS Sport & Activity Tracker  This Smart Activity Tracker has a wrist-based heart rate monitor that uses Garmin's new "Elevate 24/7" wrist-based heart rate monitoring. With the heart rate data it collects, Vívosport is able to estimate your VO2 max and fitness age, 2 indicators of physical fitness that can improve over time with regular exercise. It also tracks your HRV (heart rate variability), which is used to calculate and display your stress level. Which is something you want to keep an eye on with the warmer weather. The goal of this continuous monitoring is to make you aware when physical or emotional sources cause your stress level to rise so you can find a way to relieve the pressure.

With the information available from your Garmin Vivosport along with paying attention to your physical condition while exercising you should be able to get the most out of your exercise routines while being safe as you exercise in this summertime heat.

Be smart, pay attention to your body, it will let you know when it needs attention, so DON’T ignore any warning signs it’s giving you!

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