There are many difficulties that go along with working outside and exercising in hot temperatures. Whether you are a construction worker, farmer, or a tennis player, it is extremely important to consider the environment in which you work. This post will explain your body’s adaptations to performing in the heat and provide you with some tips on how to beat the heat this summer.
Physiological Responses to Heat
- You sweat more. Your body has several mechanisms for heat loss, however during intense exercise your body’s sweating response is the primary way to dissipate heat. This response becomes even more important when working or exercising in hot environmental temperatures. Heat released from your body evaporates sweat off your skin contributing to this significant heat loss. (.58kcal of heat is lost for every gram of water evaporated).
- Your blood plasma volume decreases. The increase in sweating contributes to a more drastic decrease in plasma volume when exercising in the heat. This decrease in blood volume decreases the hearts stroke volume (amount of blood pumped out in one heart beat), which is likely to impair physical performance.
- A rise in heart beat. Cardiac output = heart rate • stroke volume. Because stroke volume has decreased due to excessive sweating, heart rate must increase to maintain cardiac output. The heart is now working harder to provide the required oxygen to working muscles.
Dangers of the Exercising in the Heat
- Dehydration is the loss of fluid from the body.
- Heat Exhaustion is a condition caused by a loss in plasma volume and the circulatory systems’ inability to effectively release heat and supply muscles with oxygen concurrently. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include an elevated heart rate, heavy sweating, faintness, and psychological disorientation. Treatment for heat exhaustion includes having the person lie down in a cool environment and consume cool fluids.
- Heat Stroke is the failure of the body’s thermoregulatory centers resulting in a body temperature of 105˚. Heat stroke is extremely serious and can cause permanent brain damage or death. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, disorientation, seizures and sometimes a loss in consciousness. If you suspect someone is suffering of heat stroke, immediately call 911 for professional medical treatment and monitoring. Treatment involves mechanical cooling of the body through the combined use of ice packs and fanning and rehydration of the patient.
Beat the Heat tips
1. Stay Hydrated.
- Prepare ahead of time. Begin hydrating the night before a hot day. Don’t start your day already dehydrated.
- Hydrate during work or exercise. Drink something that will absorb rapidly and is palatable (e.g. cool water or sport drink). The carbohydrates and electrolytes in sport drinks (e.g. Gatorade) are more likely to benefit performances lasting longer than an hour 1 L per hour or 250 ml (1 cup) of fluid every 15 minutes is the most you can expect your body to absorb.
- Avoid caffeine. Because caffeine acts as a diuretic, it forces water out of your system. This is the last thing you want when in the summer heat. Save your caffeine intake for several hours before or after your time outdoors.
- Be aware of your sweat rate. Know your body. If you are a heavy sweater to make sure you are replenishing your lost fluids.
2. Avoid the hottest times of the day. If you have the option to choose when you are performing strenuous activities, avoid the early afternoon (2pm-4pm), which tends to be the hottest time of the day.
3. Wear appropriate clothing. Avoid cotton t-shirts that can trap heat close to your body and opt for lightweight moisture-wicking clothing designed to help promote sweat evaporation. Also, wear a hat if possible to keep the hot sun off your face.
4. Listen to your body. Be aware of your body. Take note if you begin to feel any heat exhaustion symptoms and don’t be afraid to take a break.
IV Hydration is a great way to increase your performance and stay hydrated. At Tennessee Hydration and Wellness we offer several options depending on your needs. If you are interested in learning more about how IV Hydration can enchance your performance. Click here to learn more.
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