Before discussing how to exercise in extreme heat, it is important to look at what happens to your body in heat and heat exhaustion versus heat stroke. My mother overdid it one time and ended up with heat stroke. After that point, she couldn't be a lot of heat again.
First of all, if you are not in good condition and are not used to working out in the heat, you have to be extremely careful. As summer hits, the temperatures start to rise and heat related illnesses become more common because exercising in hotter weather puts additional stress on your body. Raised temperatures with increased humidity your body circulates more blood through your body to help cool it. So there is less blood available for your muscles which increases the heart rate. In addition, if the humidity is up, it is more difficult for sweat to evaporate off your skin and your body becomes more stressed. When you stop sweating when it's hot and humid, you face an increased chance of dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat related illnesses. Heat cramps are cramps and/or spasms that happen either during or after working out in hot weather and sweating. As far as the other two, it is good to know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat related illnesses that develops after several days of exposure to high temperatures, and not drinking enough fluids. If heat exhaustion is not treated it could turn into a heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most severe heat related illness that is defined as having a body temperature of 103 or higher with in a period of 10 to 15 minutes.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, fainting, intense thirst, excessive sweating, a rapid weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, cold clammy skin, muscle cramps and fatigue while the symptoms of heat stroke include headache, confusion, elevated body temperature, no sweating, a rapid strong pulse, nausea, vomiting, red hot skin, and the person may lose consciousness.
Heat cramps are easy to treat by immediately stopping your workout and moving to a cooler location. Get rid of any extra clothing and grab a cool cloth for your skin or fan yourself to cool off. Drink a sports drink containing both sugar and salt and then stretch your muscles slowly. If you end up with heat exhaustion, you need to move to a cooler, preferably air conditioned place to lie down. Take a cold shower or use cold compresses. Take off any tight fitting or extra clothing and drink lots of water or sports drinks. When you experience a heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately, move to a cooler place and apply cold compresses until the EMT's arrive.
To avoid getting any heat related illnesses, take time to acclimate yourself to the warmer weather which takes between 7 and 14 days. This is just starting with a 5 to 20 percent of the workout done in the heat with the rest of it in a cooler location. Then each day, lengthen the time outside until you are used to it but if temperatures get too hot, you need to take some steps to keep from overheating. On Friday, I'll be discussing how to exercise outdoors. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.