By Robyn Gust, MS/ATC
It is widely known that physical activity is good for your health, but it can be dangerous in the hot, humid North Dakota summer. To keep up the fun in the sun, there are many precautions you can take to protect yourself from potential dangers, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
If you have a regular outdoor exercise, or activity such as gardening or mowing the lawn, try to schedule it in the cooler morning or evening hours. When choosing your attire for your workout, choose light colored, breathable clothing that will allow the passage of sweat so your body can cool itself. During and after your activity, be sure to consume plenty of cool water to replace your lost fluids and help cool the body down. While you are active, it is recommended that at least 10 ounces of fluids are consumed every 15 minutes. For physical activity that is an hour or longer, a sports drink is suggested to help replace electrolytes lost through sweating.
When playing an all-day softball/baseball tournament or golfing 18 holes on a hot sunny afternoon, be sure to take proper precautions and listen to your body. Drink plenty of fluids and take as many shaded rests as you can so your body can recover. Be sure to keep drinking water and eat a healthy, well balanced diet. If you feel like you are overheating, a cool, wet towel placed over the head or on the back of the neck may help cool you down quickly; and get to a cool environment.
It is very important that if you, or a person with you, starts to feel “not well,” you are able to recognize that a heat illness may be occurring. Signs and symptoms of heat illnesses may begin with excessive sweating, dizziness, blurry vision, and muscle cramps in the legs. If this begins, stop activity, get to a cool, shaded area, and drink plenty of water. If these symptoms do not go away or get worse, or you stop sweating altogether, you may be suffering from a serious heat illness. Seek emergency medical attention immediately. Please contact your physician or a certified athletic trainer if you have any questions regarding heat and exercise