Exercising On The Surface Of The Sun

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A runner on July 22 in Denver. (credit: CBS)

A runner on July 22 in Denver. (credit: CBS)

Dr. Dave Hnida By Dr. Dave Hnida
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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As the temperatures dominate the 90s and take a peak toward triple digits, what’s an exerciser to do? It sure can feel like you’re working out on the surface of the sun.

You’re lucky if you have a nice cool indoor health club where you can work up a sweat, but you’re definitely at risk for blowing a heat gasket if you go for a run, or for that matter, do anything physical on a sizzling day.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Every once in a while, we see a heavy duty exercise junkie who believes he or she has some natural immunity to heat — and we get introduced to that person as we introduce an IV into the arm.

Most people are pretty sensible about working out in the heat, but even a walk around the neighborhood, the golf course, or a day of yard work can leave you feeling punk, pale and pukey.

Some keys as the temps climb the ladder:

Do your exertional activities in the early morning or early evening.

Loose clothing does make a difference. So do lighter colors.

Once the temps hit 90, perhaps thinking about 75 is a good idea — as in 75 percent or less of your usual time, exertion, and pace.

Out of shape? Make it 50 percent, if not a lot less.

If it is really sizzling and scorching. perhaps the better part of valor is to skip exercise or outdoor activity altogether. Taking a day off won’t kill you, but trying to tough it out on a day that might melt you could kill you!

Drink up before. Even the night before. Water is best. Cold water gets absorbed most quickly. Reach for the sports drinks if you’re out more than one hour.

Don’t wait to get thirsty. You’ll be low in the tank before the fuel gauge of thirst kicks in. Thirst is not your guide.

And if it is a long day out, check your urine to monitor your hydration level. It should be the color of dilute lemonade or lighter.

Weigh yourself before, then during or after exertion. For every pound you’re down, you are 2 and a half cups of fluid low.

The first sign of heat illness is generally fatigue. The second is generally nausea. Pay attention. The unlucky ones can kiss the ground with little warning.

And finally, don’t forget the extra risk that comes with medication. The body’s main way to lower internal temperatures is to sweat. Take an allergy pill, and you may lessen the amount of sweat your body naturally makes. The same happens with a bunch of other medication, including common drugs such as medicine for high blood pressure. This means the rapid highway to overheating.

Bottom line: it’s not only a hard core runner who is at risk. It can be the lawn cutter or garden trimmer. That means you. Look before you play (or work). Pay attention to thermometer. Get the CBS Denver weather app. Drink your fluids. Be smart. I’d rather not meet you, and you’d rather not meet me, in the ER over an IV cocktail.

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