Wednesday, August 4, 2010

7 tips on coping with the heat when you exercise

We've all heard, "drink plenty of water during hot weather."

But during the summer, water isn't the only fitness tip to keep in mind as a way of coping with the heat when you exercise.

 Dr. James Muntz, an internal medicine and sports medicine physician at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, offers these top 7 tips to monitor your fitness condition during the summer: 

  1. Make sure you are sweating properly. If you stop sweating when you are exercising you are dehydrated.
  2.  If you realize your pulse rate in the morning is 10 to 15 beats higher than your normal rate, you should take the day off from exercising. Normal pulse rate is around 70-90/ minute.
  3. Get acclimated to the heat before you begin an exercise regimen. Start off with 15 minutes and slowly work your way up to 45 or an hour.
  4. Forget about the "no pain, no gain" mantra. Recognize warning signs and take the appropriate action immediately.
  5. Avoid exercising between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day.
  6. Don't try to diet by sweating. It will only result in water loss, not true weight loss.
  7. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, and sunscreen.
Muntz also talks about the different between drinking water and sports drinks.

“Drink water before you go outdoors, so you can be properly hydrated when you begin activity,” says Muntz. "But if you plan to be active in the heat for an hour or more, water may not be enough – sports drinks, or electrolyte drinks, are a good supplement.”

Sports drinks contain electrolytes, like potassium and magnesium to help replace salt and water lost in sweat when exercising heavily. "Carbohydrates, sodium and potassium help move fluids out of the body and to the muscles, where it needs to be when we are working out in the heat,” Muntz explains.

Drinking too much water in a short period of time can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, which occurs when sodium levels drop in the body. Muntz suggests raising sodium levels after activity by eating some food with salt, such as pretzels, pickles or even potato chips.

Symptoms of hyponatremia include vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, restlessness/fatigue, confusion or hallucinations, muscle weakness and convulsions.

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