Whether it’s exercising more often to keep up that ‘summer bod,’ or just having more fun playing sports outside on a nice day, when the sun comes out, we become active. Yet with that summer sun comes the heat, which can have significant effects on your muscles and the way your body works. Here are a few things to be aware of when playing outside this summer.
Muscle Fatigue, Dehydration & Heat Stroke
Your body is constantly doing things to regulate its internal temperature. Too keep it cool, either from exercise or air temperature, it creates sweat to reduce body heat through evaporation while pumping more blood to circulate through your skin. During exercise, your muscles are in higher demand for oxygen, which they receive through blood flow. If you’re exercising in hot conditions, it creates a stiff competition for the blood flow in your body, as a result your body temperate can rise, and if you’re muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen through blood flow you might notice them becoming fatigued or cramped.
Dehydration is a common effect of exercising in the heat. As your body is trying to cool itself through sweat, its expelling fluids, and if you lose more water than you take in, dehydration can occur. Mild dehydration will cause fatigue and dizziness, while extreme dehydration can be more dangerous, causing mental and physical deterioration, even fatalities. Dehydration also reduces blood flow in the body, which in turn hiders its ability to cool itself, raising your internal temperature.
Both exercise and hot weather will cause your body temperature to rise. If your internal temperature is taking on more heat than it’s dissipating, then it can reach the point of heat exhaustion. This is where your body temperature rises as high as 104 F. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, and cold, clammy skin. If this goes untreated, it can lead to heat stroke, which is when your body temperature is above 104 F, and can be a life-threatening situation.
How to Safely Exercise During the Scorching Summer Months:
- Be extra careful when exercising in very humid conditions, as it will hinder the amount of sweat that is actually evaporating from your skin, and reduce your body’s cooling effects.
- Drink lots of water. As your body continues to cool itself, it will need extra fluids to expel through sweat. Not consuming enough liquids can result in dehydration and the body overheating. Staying hydrated is critical to keeping body cool and restoring electrolytes and water you sweat out.
- Glycerol is a 3-carbon molecule that’s produced naturally in the body under healthy metabolism. Taking extra glycerol can help you retain more fluids and electrolytes during lengthy exercise so you don’t give up all your essential nutrients while you sweat.
- Cool yourself down before you begin. Studies have shown that lowering your body temperature before exercise will prolong the time it takes for you to heat up, and actually improve performance in hot weather. Dunk yourself in a frigid stream, take a cold shower, water or yourself in a cold room before you work out.
- Listen to your body when it’s hot out. Studies have shown that your brain will anticipate your body overheating and actually you slow down if its temperature is getting too hot. If you’re paying attention, it will tell you when to quit before you’re internal temperature gets dangerously high. So don’t expect to perform at your same level when it’s really hot out as when you’re in a more temperate climate.
- Take is slow in the beginning. Some studies have suggested that it can take up to two weeks for your body to acclimate to exercise in the warmer weather. Carefully work your way up to your normal routine during the hotter season to avoid injury.
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of how to stay healthy and active in the summer months, go out, be safe, and enjoy yourself! And of course, if you over do it, give us a call and we will help you feel better in no time.