run.jpegSummer is one of the best parts of the year to get active! While there's nothing wrong with breaking a sweat in the summer heat, it's important to identify when moments of harmless fun become signs of dehydration.

AtJefferson Orthopedic Specialists, our team is dedicated to ensuring you stay as active as possible. But it's even more important that you do so safely. Exercising outdoors in the warm weather comes with just as many benefits as it does risks. Today, we'll teach you how to avoid those risks to get the most out of your summer workouts!

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The Most Common Heat-Related Illnesses

Spending too much time out in the hot weather can put you at risk for a number of problems. But, two issues are more common than any other: Heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Though these two names might sound similar, they are very distinct. For your safety, it's important you're able to tell them apart by their symptoms.

Heat Exhaustion

This condition is primarily caused by prolonged exposure to extreme heat, leading to an imbalance in body temperature. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Moist Skin and Cool Skin: Despite the high temperatures, individuals experiencing heat exhaustion often have moist skin that feels cool to the touch.
  • Heavy Sweating: Excessive sweating is a common indicator as the body attempts to cool itself.
  • Feeling Thirsty: A persistent feeling of thirst is a sign that the body is losing fluids rapidly.
  • Other Symptoms: Muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea are commonly seen.

Here are some steps that you can take toward preventing this condition, or if you're suffering, treating it:

  • Stay Hydrated: Regular water intake is crucial. Drinking water frequently helps maintain hydration levels. If possible, try adding an electrolyte drink.
  • Stay Cool: Finding shade, wearing light clothing, and taking breaks in cooler environments like a community recreation center can help.
  • Avoid Sugary Snacks: These can exacerbate dehydration. Opt for water or electrolyte drinks instead.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to signs of heat exhaustion and stop physical activity if symptoms appear.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the far more severe counterpart to heat exhaustion, requiring immediate medical attention. Unlike heat exhaustion, heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature regulation system fails, leading to dangerously high body temperatures.

These are the symptoms to look out for if you suspect that you may be going through heat stroke:

  • High Body Temperature: A body temperature above 103°F (39.4°C) is a critical sign.
  • Red Skin: The skin may turn red and feel hot and dry to the touch.
  • Rapid Heartbeat: A significantly increased pulse rate is common.
  • Shallow Breathing: Breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Weak Pulse: A weak pulse is a serious symptom indicating that the condition is worsening.
  • Other Symptoms: Confusion, seizures, and unconsciousness can also occur.

As stated, heat stroke is a condition that requires immediate action. Below are some steps to take as soon as this issue presents itself:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Immediate medical intervention is necessary. Call emergency services if someone shows signs of heat stroke.
  • Cool Skin: Move the person to a shaded or cool area. Remove excess clothing to help lower body temperature.
  • Cold Water Immersion: If possible, immerse the individual in cold water. This is one of the fastest ways to reduce body temperature.
  • Use Cold Packs: To help cool the body, apply cold packs to the armpits, neck, and groin areas.
  • Monitor Vital Signs: While waiting for medical help, monitor the patient's pulse, breathing, and level of consciousness.

Tips For Staying Active In The Summer Safely

Staying active in the summer is important for maintaining overall health, but exercising outdoors in warm weather has specific challenges. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your workouts!

Time Your Workouts Properly

Schedule your physical activity during cooler parts of the day, such as the early morning or late evening, to avoid high temperatures. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and avoid exercising outdoors during heat waves or high humidity.

Take Precautions To Stay Cool

When choosing where to work out, opt for shaded areas like parks with plenty of trees or trails with natural cover to minimize direct sun exposure. You should also wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics to help keep your body cool and reduce the risk of heat-related illness.

Also, remember to apply sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from sun exposure and reduce the risk of skin cancer!

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is essential when staying active in the summer. High temperatures and increased physical activity can lead to dehydration! Ensure you drink water before, during, and after your workouts. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to hydrate.

Try incorporating electrolyte drinks into your routine to replenish lost minerals and salts, especially if you're engaging in intense activities that cause heavy sweating. In general, you should aim to drink at least 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes during exercise to maintain hydration levels.

Groups With Special Considerations

It's important to note that while the above tips are applicable to everyone, certain demographics will need to exercise with especially great care in the heat.

Tips for certain age demographics include:

  • Children: Ensure children drink water frequently and take breaks in the shade. Activities like swimming or playing in a pool can be fun and safe ways to stay active without overexerting in the heat.
  • Older Adults: Older adults should avoid peak sun hours and choose low-impact activities like walking yoga or a brisk walk in the early morning or late evening.
  • Medical Conditions: Those with conditions like cardiovascular disease should prioritize low-intensity exercises and avoid high-impact activities like jumping rope during the hottest parts of the day.

If you are on prescription medications or have underlying health conditions, seek medical advice before engaging in strenuous exercise outdoors during warmer weather. And, no matter what, pay close attention to any unusual symptoms during exercise and adjust your activity level accordingly.

Stay Active The Safe Way This Summer!

Staying active in the summer is crucial for maintaining your health, but taking precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses is important. Following these tips, you can enjoy the warm weather without compromising your health. Remember, listening to your body, staying hydrated, and taking breaks as needed are essential.

AtJefferson Orthopedic Specialists, we are dedicated to helping you maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Whether you're dealing with a heat-related illness or need advice on staying active safely, our team is here to support you. Stay safe this summer, and remember to have fun while doing it!

Don't let shoulder pain hold you back. Contact our highly skilled team of orthopedic and physical therapy specialists at Jefferson Orthopedic Specialists to request a consultation today. Start your journey towards a healthier, more active future with a partner committed to your recovery and well-being.

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