Discussion: As we move into July and August in the northern hemisphere, temperatures start to climb to their highest peak for the summer. Whether it be southern or northern parts of the United States, humid or dry, daily temperatures are on the rise. For those of you that work and/or exercise outside in the heat, this means that it's time to be extra cautious. This is due to the nature of high temperatures having a negative effect on the body. Overexerting yourself in the heat can pose as a health risk if you are not careful.
During vigorous outdoor work and exercise, the heart works excessively to pump blood throughout your body and deliver oxygen to your muscles. Your core body temperature also increases with any type of strenuous activity. In order to cool itself down, the heart works hard to pump sufficient blood into the skin for cooling. This cooling mechanism is called perspiration, which evaporates off the surface of the skin. High temperatures can also cause excessive sweating which will lead to dehydration. In the case of high temperatures and high humidity conditions, sweat is less likely to evaporate. This causes insufficient cooling of the skin's surface. Insufficient cooling can contribute to increasing core body temperature, bringing it closer to a dangerous temperature level. The threshold for this core temperature is 104℉. Exactly the temperature that is dangerous to exceed when you are ill with a fever. During outdoor exercise in the heat, once the body approaches this temperature, it can suffer from one of the following health issues:
Once the body temperature approaches 104℉, it is critical that a person immediately cease exercising, take sips of water and cool themselves off. A person's core temperature should not reach above 104℉ for they may risk having a heat stroke. This can cause brain damage along with dizziness, confusion, organ failure and possible death.
A study done by Dr. Lawrence Armstrong and Dr. Douglas Casa of the University of Connecticut studied a runner in a controlled high temperature environment. For approximately one hour they examined the runner's body temperature, sweat loss, heart rate and dehydration percentage while they ran on a treadmill in a 90℉ room. After an hour of running, the runner’s core body temperature measured 103℉, almost to the threshold of 104. Other measurements concluded that the runner produced 54 ounces of sweat, their heart rate increased to 175 bpm (beats per minute) and their body was dehydrated by about 2.6%. It was concluded that if the runner had continued their exercise for longer than an hour in the 90℉ heat, they would have suffered heat exhaustion and would have been at high risk of a heat stroke.
This also applies to outdoor workers who spend hours in the sun during the day. Unlike exercise, which can be intense and short, workers spend a longer time out in the heat. Outdoor work often involves exerting the body in some way. This can still cause the body to sweat and increase in temperature. It is important to follow necessary precautions when working or exercising outside in the heat. Here are some tips on what you can do to keep yourself safe from heat related health risks while still working outside and getting your exercise in:
High temperatures increase stress on the heart and body during strenuous work and exercise. It is important during this time of year to be cautious when working or exercising outdoors. Especially for those exercisers that love to be outdoors and hate the gym. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you find yourself feeling weak and fatigued, stop whatever activity you are doing, drink some water, cool yourself down and take it easy.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Alex Maynard