Exercising during a heat wave is not only sticky business – it can also be fatal. The Mayo Clinic warns that being active during high temperatures and high humidity can cause heat exhaustion, which can progress to a deadly case of heatstroke. The good news is – you can prevent heat exhaustion.
Health Canada provides these helpful tips for individuals who are ‘active in the heat’:
- Know what the outdoor temperature is before you begin a physical activity so you can modify your plans accordingly.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of cool water before, during and after being physically active.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made of breathable fabric.
- Reschedule outdoor activity to a cooler part of the day or another day. Alternatively, exercise in an air-conditioned place or find a cooler outdoor location, such as a tree-shaded area.
- Avoid sun exposure.
- Allow your body to recover after heat exposure. Spend a few hours in a cool place.
- Remember that high humidity affects the body’s ability to regulate heat.
As the summer temperatures rise, Health Canada cautions that even healthy individuals can be at risk during heat waves. However, individuals are at a greater risk if they have breathing difficulties, heart problems, mental illness, hypertension or kidney problems. If you are taking medications or have a health condition check with your pharmacist or doctor to see if exposure to high temperatures increases your health risks.
Older adults are susceptible to heat stress. Being able to cope with changes in body temperature is dependent on a strong central nervous system according to the Mayo Clinic. As we age our central nervous system deteriorates. The Mayo Clinic also stresses that older adults experience difficulty staying hydrated. If you are 65+, it is especially important to alter your physical activities when the heat is on.