Exercising in the heat

Heat causes more deaths than all other weather issues combined.  Summer in Wisconsin is beautiful.  Temperatures and humidity are often lower than other parts of the country, however, we do have days that are rather intense.  Many of us enjoy the heat and exercising outdoors in the summer.  Exercising when it is hot is challenging due to a large number of physiological factors  including a rise in core temperature and a higher possibility of dehydration. Exercising increases heat production and evaporation of sweat helps to cool our bodies. If the humidity is too high evaporation is reduced putting one at an increased risk for heat illness.  There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of heat related injury.  If the heat index is high, exercise early in the morning or in an air conditioned environment. If you are running or biking, go out with the wind at your back and come back into the wind in order to allow the wind to help cool your body when your temperature is highest. Wear as little clothing as possible made of a light wicking fabric. Prevent dehydration by hydrating in the hours before you go out. During exercise drink fluids every 15 minutes. Cold liquids are better absorbed and help cool the body best.  Continue fluids after exercise as well. Recovery is important in maintaining performance.

Exercise intensity in the heat may be reduced. Bear that in mind when you are planning your workouts. Gradually acclimatize yourself to the heat. It will take a couple of weeks of exercising in the heat for your body to adjust. You will be able to pick up the intensity as you adapt to the heat.

Listen to your body and use common sense. If you are pushing yourself to the point of being sick or passing out, that does not mean you are getting a great workout, it means your body is being abused.