When the weather turns warm, it's great to be active outside. But when it gets really hot and humid, be careful.
Exercising in the heat can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion and potentially deadly heatstroke.
A few safeguards can help you avoid these problems. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says drinking plenty of fluids, wearing the right clothes and exercising at the right time of day are among the best ways to beat the heat.
You need to drink enough water, sports drinks or fruit juices before, during and after exercise. The ACSM generally recommends drinking according to your thirst—no more and no less. Fluids help your body perspire, which cools the skin and keeps body temperatures at a safe level. Avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps.
More isn't necessarily better. The ACSM suggests trying to drink as much fluid as you lose while exercising.
If your urine is clear or pale, you're probably drinking enough fluids.
The American Council on Exercise and other experts list these additional strategies to help you stay cool:
Watch for warning signs
Warning signs of a heat illness depend on how severe the problem is.
A mild heat illness (heat cramps) may cause painful cramps in the stomach, arm and leg muscles.
If you have these symptoms, stop exercising, gently stretch the affected muscles and drink cool water or an electrolyte solution that's low in sugar.
A moderate heat illness (heat syncope or heat exhaustion) may cause weakness, fatigue, fainting, a body temperature of 104 degrees, excessive thirst, decreased sweating, weakness, headache, frequent muscle cramps, and nausea and vomiting. If you or someone you're with has these signs and symptoms, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends the following:
A severe heat illness (heatstroke) may cause signs and symptoms such as a core temperature greater than 104 degrees, nausea, seizures, confusion and disorientation. Unconsciousness and coma are also possible. Heatstroke can sometimes occur without preceding signs or symptoms of heat illness.
Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If someone has symptoms, the AAOS recommends calling 911 and trying to cool the person by removing as much clothing as possible, submerging them in an ice bath and putting ice packs on the armpits, groin and neck. You should keep trying to cool the person until help arrives.