So, here we are…record temperatures! 117, 118 and who know’s what’s next? We only know, it will be hot. But, what about exercise? Some would not dare to enter the hellacious inferno, others…might post on Facebook how no heat wave will get the best of them. The fact is, every year people are rescued from mountainsides and emergency rooms are busy with cases of heat exhaustion or even worse heat stroke (Banner Health, 2012). So, why do people do it? Most would say, “…they are crazy!, or “…they must be stupid”! Yet, many of these brave runners and hikers are pretty darn fit and keep a good routine. Maybe they can endure? Maybe it’s ok for some? Or, maybe we should look at the reality of exercise in the heat.
As I write this on June 20th, 2016, there have been (4) four deaths of hikers in Arizona, in the last week. Sadly, one of these fitness enthusiast’s was a 25 year old personal trainer in Anthem, Arizona. This news hurt to hear. A young fitness pro with her whole life ahead of her, gone. It prompted me to write this. She was young, and likely very fit and yet we know what happened. It can happen to you.
Many of you have seem my TV segments on hydration and being prepared for exercise in the heat…Drink water, before, during and after exercise! Maybe proper hydration is what gives some a false sense of security. The fact is, it’s simply too hot to train outdoors right now.
There are stages of dehydration or heat exhaustion. A person may go for a short 2-4 mile run in the heat and survive. He or she may do this for two or three weeks. However, at some point the body’s homeostasis decreases. The exercise participant may develop headaches, diarrhea and low energy. They might even think it’s from what they ate the night before. The symptoms realized, may or may not occur to the exercise participant, that this indeed is heat related. Could it be, that these are all indicators of heat exhaustion? I know these symptoms well, because I was this guy about 20 years ago. I had a sense of being above it all. After all, I had the know-how and was really fit. I’m fortunate that I did not develop further symptoms, and I was smart to cut out the intense training in the heat. I listened to my body.
So, was I dumb or crazy!?; as some might say. I don’t believe so. Like many seasoned fitness participants, I felt like…”I got this!” I was prepared.
Fitness is more competitive today than ever. It’s not just teens or die hards. It’s everyone; soccer mom’s executives and the person that just lost 90 pounds and is an office hero. The temptation to show everyone that you can train in extreme heat is as hot now as ever.
So, my advise?
Drink water before, during and after activity. Include some performance beverage into the mix. This will insure you don’t develop hyponatremia. This is when you drink so much to attempt to hydrate that you end up depleting your sodium levels. This too can be deadly! The symptoms are nearly identical to dehydration, leaving the exercise participant feeling a need to drink more and more water. You can dilute the performance beverage with some water to decease the amount of sugar consumed. The electrolytes gained are also essential.
Train early in the morning or later in the evening.
Option for indoor activity more than outdoor activity. Avoid the trails in extreme heat!
Be safe and please, listen to your body.