Beat the Heat and Crush Your Workout

The dog days of summer are upon us and they bring heat and humidity. As the mercury rises, so do the risks of heat stroke and dehydration. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lace ‘em up. Try these tips on how to workout in the heat.

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First, it’s important to be aware of the different ways to detect heat stroke, since complications can begin and become severe quickly. As you likely remember from grade school, the ideal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature hits 104 degrees. Symptoms include dehydration, fainting, nausea or vomiting, weakness or headache. Although most heat strokes can be corrected quite rapidly with increased fluid intake and cooling blankets, delaying treatment of severe dehydration can cause more serious complications such as loss of consciousness or seizures. It’s also crucial to note that each person may define heat differently, meaning people should listen to their own bodies.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone working out in the heat for less than two hours drink 8oz of water every 15-20 minutes. I would also personally suggest drinking up to 24 ounces (three cups of water) before and after physical activity to make sure the body has enough liquid sustenance. Those working out for more than one hour should ingest electrolytes such as Gatorade to keep cardiac, muscular and nervous systems functioning. Wearing sunscreen and light-colored clothing can also reduce the rays’ impact. 

I suggest exercising early in the morning or evening rather than during peak heat, which usually occurs between noon and 3pm. I would also recommend staying within the maximum heart rate for each individual during the summer months and try not to exceed the number. To find your average heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Tracking weight after exercise is another way to monitor signs of dehydration. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a weight drop of more than 3 percent after an intense exercise session correlates to an increased risk of dehydration. Additionally, for every two pounds lost with an exercise routine means the body will need about six cups of water to replace the lost fluid content. 

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is a third year resident in Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center-University of Massachusetts Medical School. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health with healthy living. Dr. Kamal has a special interest in outpatient adult psychiatry.