Exercise in the Heat - Treating Heat Exhaustion
Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK
The last part to this 3-part series on exercising in the heat will deal with treating and preventing heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is basically a more advanced level of dehydration characterized by the inability to sustain adequate cardiac output (blood outflow from the heart), resulting from strenuous physical exercise and heat stress. The need to maintain blood pressure and essential organ function, combined with a loss of fluid due to acute dehydration, creates a challenge the body cannot meet, especially if the athlete attempts to continue exercising.
Heat exhaustion can be caused by a lack of fluid intake and/or prolonged exposure to hot environments while exercising.
1. Difficulty continuing intense exercise in heat
Other possible symptoms:
1. Remove yourself from exercising and immediately move to a shaded or air-conditioned area.
Before jumping back into exercise mode be sure that you meet the following criteria:
1. You be should be symptom free and fully hydrated
Hydration is a key component to the prevention of heat exhaustion. Consider the following analogy: Imagine if you pulled a sponge out of a water bucket and threw it onto the hot Arizona pavement. Then you pulled another sponge out, wrung it out, and threw it onto the pavement. The wrung-out sponge would dry up much quicker than the soaking wet sponge. The moral of the story is to make sure you are properly hydrated before you go out into the heat and especially before you go out into the heat and exercise.
Refer back to the part 2 of this series for hydration protocols for preventing heat exhaustion.
Remember that your body needs to time to acclimate itself to exercising in hot conditions. Usually this can take up to 14 days so remember to ease into training in the heat and ensure that you are constantly hydrating your body.
Remember, if you are thirsty it’s already too late.
© 2006 Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK
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