Your body has several mechanisms for dealing with heat stress. The first thing that happens when the blood vessels dilate is that they increase circulation to the skin, which allows excess heat to escape you. As a result, you begin to sweat, cooling your skin and ultimately your whole body.
Perspiration doesn’t evaporate as quickly from your skin in humid weather, so cooling down becomes more difficult. Consequently, your body needs to work harder to cool itself, raising your heart rate as well.
Furthermore, excessive sweating can make you dehydrated and cause you to lose salt. Your body is made up of 60% water, and it is a vital component of every bodily function. As much as a litre or two of fluid can be lost per hour when you exercise, mostly because of sweating and breathing. Heat and humidity can deplete your body of fluids and electrolytes. You may experience fatigue and sluggishness because of blood not flowing well to your muscles.
What are the risks?
The body becomes dehydrated when it loses more fluid than it intakes. In the absence of treatment, it can worsen and lead to serious complications such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, seizures, and kidney failure.
The symptoms of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty
- Dark yellow or strong-smelling urine.
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed.
- Feeling tired.
- A dry mouth.
- Urinating fewer than four times a day.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Feeling sick.
- Excessive sweating.
- Fast breathing.
- Being very thirsty.
- A high temperature.
It is usually not a serious issue if you can cool off within 30 minutes of being overheated. If it turns into heatstroke, you should seek medical attention immediately.
A heatstroke occurs when your body is unable to cope. As a result, your body temperature reaches over 40°C because the normal cooling mechanisms cease to work. Severe headaches, feeling sick, shallow and rapid breathing, muscle weakness, fainting, and confusion are some of the symptoms that can accompany this disease.
It is possible to reduce these risks when you work out by taking certain measures.
Hydration is crucial to exercise especially in hot conditions. If you don’t drink enough water before exercising, your core temperature will rise faster, and your heart will have to work harder. It is recommended that you drink six to eight glasses of water or other non-alcoholic fluids a day, but if you exercise, you should drink more. Having about eight cups of tea a day or four cups of brewed coffee per day (about 400 mg caffeine per day) contributes to your fluid intake, but very high caffeine levels can dehydrate you.
The amount of liquid you need depends on how much sweat you produce and how long you exercise. Factors such as fitness level, environment and the intensity of your workout need to be taken to consideration.
Type of exercise
When’s Best To Exercise
What to wear
Just Take it Easy
Especially in hot and humid weather, exercise can be very difficult. Remember that more can be achieved with less effort and do not push yourself too hard. It is important to pay attention to how your body feels and be prepared to cut your session short if necessary.