How Heat Can Ruin Your Outdoor Workouts

Dr. Dirk - Exercise

At its very basis, weight-loss is this simple equation: calories out > calories in. Sorry folks, you cannot get around doing some form of exercise to keep your weight in check!

If being consistent about exercising is a struggle for you, the summer heat likely isn’t making things any easier. When temperatures rise, Dr. Dirk Rodriguez and Northstar explain, exercise not only becomes less appealing, it can also become dangerous.

Here are three heat-related conditions and what to do about them.

Dehydration. All of Dr. Dirk’s obesity surgery patients know he believes in hydration. “I run outdoors in Texas, but even in the early hours of the morning, I need to make sure I am hydrated before heading out and definitely after I get back,” he says.

The more you sweat, the more dehydrated you become. Common symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dizziness and headache. Increased heart rate and a rising body temp can also signal dehydration.

To prevent dehydration while exercising, drink plenty of fluids prior to exercising and during your workout. What you drink is important, too. Be careful not to overdo it on water.

“If you are sweating more than usual, make sure your drinks have electrolytes such as Gatorade, Powerade or other sports drinks that will replace electrolytes lost due to intense sweating,” says Dr. Dirk.

Make sure to drink at least 32 ounces of fluids for every hour of heavy sweating.

If you experience symptoms of dehydration, take a break from your workout; find a place to get cool and replenish fluids with an electrolyte sports drink. Note: Sports drinks should only be consumed following intense exercise; you shouldn’t need to replenish electrolytes after a light workout.

Heat Exhaustion. Consider heat exhaustion stage one of heat stroke. Symptoms include weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache and an elevated body temperature (less than 104 degrees). Often people experiencing heat exhaustion will collapse during activity.

Dr. Dirk warns, “If it’s a typical Texas summer day and the temperature is above 95 degrees, wait until it’s cooler or just exercise inside.”

To prevent heat exhaustion, keep yourself hydrated (as explained above) and allow your body time to acclimate to working out in the heat. Start with just a few minutes a day of outside exercise and gradually increase the time you spend outside. Wear loose-fitting, moisture-wicking clothes.

If you think you may be suffering from heat exhaustion, stop exercising immediately. Lie down with your feet elevated, drink plenty of fluids and apply a cold, moist towel to your skin.

Heat Stroke. This is the most dangerous heat-related condition you can experience, and occurs when signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion aren’t treated quickly or properly. Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature above 104 degrees, dizziness, collapse and confusion or delirium. Heat stroke can lead failure of the circulatory system and even organ and tissue damage.

Dr. Dirk and Northstar caution that heat stress and heat stroke are no laughing matters.

To prevent heat stroke, pay attention to the symptoms of dehydration and heat exhaustion and treat appropriately.

If you (or your workout partner) begin to experience symptoms of heat stroke, stop working out immediately, go somewhere cool, take an icy bath or cover the body in cold, wet towels to lower body temperature and seek medical help immediately.

To help prevent these and other heat-related conditions such as heat cramps, avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day. It’s also wise not to workout alone, especially outdoors. Having a buddy can be more fun, and it also means you have someone to help you if you experience heat-related distress.