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When is it too hot? The ultimate guide to exercising in summer

When is it too hot? The ultimate guide to exercising in summer But what about those incredibly hot days? You already know which ones: the sun burns your neck, the pavement roasts you, and only when you go out to do your armpits sweat.

Now, of course, you know it’s important to stay hydrated whenever you exercise, but days, when the heat is absolutely scorching, come around every year and can give you pause. Maybe you worked out anyway and found you were having trouble catching your breath; maybe you got dizzy, you got dizzy and you felt that you couldn’t quantify how much you sweated; maybe you even stopped exercising.

On days like these, you have to ask yourself: Is it safe?

In 1980, approximately 1,700 people died because they were unprepared for an extreme heat wave. In 2003, complications related to a heat wave killed 14,800 people in Paris, and those numbers weren’t even directly related to exercising during extreme heat. Clearly, heat can be dangerous, but add exercise to the equation and the question quickly becomes even more serious.

When is it too hot?

your body in the heat

To understand the answer to that question, you need to know how your body reacts to extremes of hot and cold. Through a process known as thermoregulation , your body strives to maintain a temperature between 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius.
Your hypothalamus, a gland inside your brain, is in charge of controlling your body’s core temperature. If the weather outside is extreme enough to cause a change in your body’s core temperature, your hypothalamus will activate a specific process to heat or cool the body back within normal ranges.

So when your hypothalamus registers that your body’s core temperature is rising because it’s hot outside, it kicks into gear. To get rid of the extra heat, your hypothalamus increases circulation, moving the blood in your body to the surface, dilating superficial blood vessels so the heat can dissipate through your skin. When this happens, you may notice that your veins “burst” and your skin turns red.

In addition to increasing circulation, your hypothalamus activates your sweat glands and starts you sweating. The evaporation of the water released on your skin cools it down, which helps reduce its temperature. Finally, your thyroid is also stimulated to decrease heat created through metabolic processes.

Source: OpenText

Trouble in the heat

That’s what’s supposed to happen, under normal conditions. But if you’re exposed to high levels of heat and humidity for long enough, didn’t drink enough fluids, and sweat excessively, these cooling systems can fail and you can get sick.

Heat-related illnesses span a wide range of severity, but if you notice symptoms that start at even the “lowest level,” you should take action and start correcting the problem before it becomes serious.

  • Heat cramps: When you exercise in the heat, you can get painful cramps. The affected muscle(s) may feel tight to the touch and the spasms may cause you to have sharp pains. At this point, your body temperature may still be within normal limits.
    Heat Fainting: Fainting refers to a loss of consciousness, which we may recognize as exercise-related collapse. Just before this happens, you may feel dizzy or pass out. This usually occurs when temperatures are high and you have been standing or exercising for a long time or when you stand up quickly after sitting for a long period of time.
    Heat Exhaustion: Not unique to exercise, heat exhaustion occurs when your body temperature exceeds normal limits and reaches 40° Celsius. You may feel nauseated, weak, cold, faint, or experience headaches and vomiting. You are still sweating at this point, but your skin may feel cool and clammy.
    Heat Stroke / Heat Stroke: If you don’t treat heat exhaustion, heat stroke occurs. At this point, your core body temperature is over 40°C and life-threatening. Your skin is no longer able to sweat, and it may feel dry or clammy to the touch.

You may be confused, irritable, and experience cardiac arrhythmias, along with symptoms of heat exhaustion. You must receive immediate emergency treatment or you risk brain damage, organ failure, and death.

So if you exercise in hot weather, pay attention to your body’s reaction. Along with the symptoms listed above, if you notice that you are sweating more than usual, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or think your heart is beating faster than it should: stop exercising . You need to get to a cool place and start hydrating right away. If possible, have someone stay with you. And if you have signs of more serious symptoms, particularly heat stroke, see a doctor right away.

It is important to take these signs seriously. For many athletes, taking a break or overcoming heat-related symptoms isn’t even a question. And if it continues beyond where it should, you may face drastic consequences. These symptoms don’t necessarily mean you’re out of shape and need to work harder; they could be early signs of a life-threatening problem that needs to be fixed.

How to know when it’s too hot

There is no single rule to determine when it is too hot to exercise outside. That said, there are some subjective determining factors to keep in mind when it comes to deciding whether to exercise outdoors.

First , how used are you to the area? If you are from a cold state. Like Toluca, and you’re in Cancun, how used is your body to high temperatures? Are you used to humid or dry heat? Being used to your surroundings can reduce physical stress on your body.
Second , how fit are you? Research suggests that people who are in better aerobic shape can adapt to extreme temperatures more quickly than people who are less fit.
Third , what do the professionals say? As long as you have access to the internet, you have a great tool at your disposal: the WetBulb Globe Temperature, or WBGT. The WBGT measures when your body will be heat stressed when exposed to direct sunlight. Unlike the heat index, which only takes temperature and humidity into account, the WBGT takes into account “temperature, humidity, wind speed, solar angle, and cloud cover.” WBGT is used as a tool by the military and OSHA to manage the workload of outside personnel.

By using the tool linked above, you can select your location to view the WBGT score; then you can compare it to the numbers below (also available via the link) to determine how long it’s safe to exercise outside before you need a break:

Suggested actions and impact prevention

WBGT (F) Effects Precautionary Actions
<80 80-85 Working or exercising in direct sunlight will stress your body after 45 minutes. At least 15 minutes of rest every hour if you work or exercise in direct sunlight 85-88 Working or exercising in direct sunlight will stress your body after 30 minutes. At least 30 minutes of rest every hour if you work or exercise in direct sunlight 88-90 Working or exercising in direct sunlight will stress your body after 20 minutes. At least 40 minutes of rest every hour if you work or exercise in direct sunlight > 90 Working or exercising in direct sunlight will stress your body after 15 minutes. At least 45 minutes of rest every hour if you work or exercise in direct sunlight

Can I burn more fat if I exercise in the heat?

It makes sense to wonder if working out on a particularly hot day actually burns fat, after all, if your body is a lot hotter and you’re sweating a lot more.

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. So all that extra sweat is really water and salt, not fat burning.

And yet, heat can still play a positive role in improving your body composition. Two ways it can do this include heat shock proteins (HSPs) and human growth hormone (HGH).

heat shock proteins

Even without exercise, exposure to heat can cause HSPs to activate. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) exist within cells and aid in muscle protein synthesis and repair . When exposed to thermal stress, they increase to meet demand.


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