Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Myth: It’s too hot to exercise.

Answer: Busted, but...

It has been a grueling summer with high heat and humidity — it is important to pay attention to the effects of this type of weather on the body. High heat and humidity can make exercising dangerous by overwhelming the body’s cooling mechanisms, leading to heat illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

It may be better to work out around the heat in the summer just as we do with the cold in winter. To prevent heat-related injuries:
woman taking brisk walk on hot day rather than high-intensity run
  • Exercise in the cooler times of the day.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after activity to prevent dehydration.
  • Slow it down — reduce the intensity or duration of your activity.
  • Check the heat stress index before beginning exercise and use appropriate caution if it is over 180.
  • Move your exercise indoors. Walk at the mall, use home exercise equipment, try a new exercise, dance class or video.

Recognize the early warning signs of heat illness, which include cramps, excessive sweating, cold clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature, paleness, dizziness, weak and rapid pulse, shallow breathing, nausea, headache, etc.

You can still be active in the summer, just make sure to take a few extra precautions to ensure your safety.

Additional nutrition and health information can be found at MissouriFamilies.org.

Contributor: Karen Sherbondy, MEd, RD, LD, Extension Associate, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension, 816-655-6227

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