Let's talk about the factors to be considered while training in hot weather!
Before putting some guidelines out there, we will try to understand what happens to the human body when exposed to hot environment.
All primates including humans, generate heat either by increasing muscle activity or by reacting to the hot environment which exceeds the body temperature.
How do humans differ from other primates?
Firstly, humans have the advantage of losing heat via perspiration (sweat). In addition, humans can cope up with their maximal potentials in terms of exercise for prolonged duration in temperatures ranging not more than 41 degree C (106 degree F). Having said that, there are different modes of heat transfer. Do you know what is the easiest way for humans to do so?
What could possibly go wrong if you are not careful enough to interpret those symptoms?
The common possibilities are heatstroke, exercise associated collapse/ heat syncope and cramps.
1) Heatstroke - Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). You may develop confusion, irritability, headache, heart rhythm problems, etc. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death
2) Exercise associated collapse/ heat syncope - Exercise-associated collapse is feeling lightheaded or fainting immediately after exercising, and it can occur especially if you immediately stop running and stand after a race or a long run. Heat syncope is a feeling of lightheadedness or fainting caused after standing for a long period of time, or standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time in high temperatures.
3) Cramps - Cramps occur due to fatigue. It's a presumption that "Oh, cramps are just an electrolyte imbalance. Load him/her with Oral Rehydrating Solution and it'll be gone like it never existed in first place." That's not always true! Cramps occur due to spinal neural reflex which in turn is a result of fatigue. Too much to grab, don't worry; just stretch the muscle along with application of ice and Poof ! You're cramp free!
Pay attention to these symptoms as it affects the training.
If you ignore these symptoms, your condition can worsen, resulting in a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Visual problems
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
How can one avoid such problems? Well , here are some measures to be taken when not feeling "okay"!
1) Stop exercising immediately and get out of the hot environment. If possible, have someone accompany you who can help monitor your condition.
2) The most effective way of rapid cooling is immersion of your body in a cold- or ice-water tub.
3) In cases of heat exhaustion, remove extra clothing or sports equipment. This will help cool your body faster.
4) In running events, there are 'Flag' warnings that correspond to the degree of heat and humidity. For example, a yellow flag requires careful monitoring, and races are canceled in black flag conditions.
5) If you're used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. It can take at least one to two weeks to adapt to the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts
6) Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.
7) Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well-hydrated with water. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink fluids.
8) Lightweight, loose fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
9) Exercise in the morning or evening, when it's likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas, or do a water workout in a pool
10) Apply sunscreen as a sunburn decreases your body's ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer
Heat-related illnesses are largely preventable. Take some basic precautions and your exercise routine doesn't have to be sidelined when the heat is on!!
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