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Dear Mayo Clinic: Our family loves to exercise outdoors. With summer coming, I want to make sure our family stays safe. What advice do you have for staying hydrated and avoiding issues while working out in the heat?
Answer: Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don't take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. The exercise, as well as the air temperature and humidity, can increase your core body temperature.
Regardless of the activity, if you exercise outdoors in hot weather you will want to take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.
Most importantly, if you are exercising outdoors, pay attention to your body temperature to reduce the risk of serious heat-related conditions, including heatstroke — when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). Measuring core body temperature with a rectal thermometer is essential to accurately determine the degree of heat injury. An oral, ear or forehead thermometer doesn't provide an accurate temperature reading for this purpose.
Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness are varied but may include muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, fainting, dizziness or headache, excessive sweating, low blood pressure, and vision problems.
If you begin to experience any issues, stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. It is imperative to lower your body temperature and hydrate right away. You may place cool, wet towels or ice packs on your neck, forehead and under your arms; spray yourself with water from a hose or shower; or sit in a tub filled with cold water. Drink fluids, such as water or a sports drink. If you don't feel better within about 20 minutes, seek emergency medical care.
Heat-related illnesses are largely preventable. By taking some basic precautions, your exercise routine doesn't have to be sidelined when the heat is on. — Mayo Clinic staff, Rochester, Minnesota
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