By Coach Meredith
As we ease into the first round of summer heat waves, we need to take precautionary steps to avoid heat-related illnesses.
Hot temperatures and high humidity are likely in our forecast for the next couple months. It is vital to drink plenty of fluids, mainly water or a natural electrolyte drink such as coconut water. It is also a good idea to stay out of the sun during the mid-part of the day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are typically the strongest. It is also advised to conserve your energy where you can by limiting activity that is directly in the sun.
Make sure to drink cool water before you exercise as well as after your workout. If you're planning to exercise in the heat and humidity for more than an hour, it's important to consume a drink that contains electrolytes, in addition to water, to replenish the salt loss from sweating. A few salty pretzels and water are also a quick alternative to an electrolyte drink if you prefer.
To beat the heat, it is best to stay indoors with air conditioning if possible. If air conditioning isn’t available, the use of fans and a cool mist will work well too.
When outside, wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing and a hat that provides shade to the head and face. Wear sunscreen and make sure to reapply every two hours.
During any periods of high heat and humidity, keep a close eye on seniors and children because both are at increased risk for heat-related illnesses.
Heat cramps and heat exhaustion are the most common heat-related illnesses. Nausea, dizziness and muscle cramping can also occur. Heat stroke is even more serious than cramps or exhaustion, and is a medical emergency. Depending on how serious symptoms are, IV fluids may be necessary to help reduce the effects of heat and to rehydrate the body.
In some situations, you may even develop temperatures up to 106-108 degrees, which can cause confusion and disorientation, as well as loss of ability to produce sweat to cool the body. Ice baths and misting fans can help reduce your core temperature.
Therefore, it is highly encouraged to drink plenty of water (at least ½ your bodyweight in ounces per day) on a regular basis to remain properly hydrated. This way your body can function and cool itself properly.