(NC) — Canadians wait so long for summer to arrive that some of us overdo it a when exercising outdoors, especially during unexpected heat and humidity early in the season. It takes a while for our bodies to become acclimatized to warmer temperatures and our bodies regulate heat more slowly during hot, humid weather, causing us to overheat that much easier.
Before you head outdoors this summer, take a moment to understand the potential health risks of being active outdoors in extreme heat.
While being physically active has many health benefits, it can increase your risk for heat illness, especially in those with breathing difficulties, heart problems, a mental illness such as depression, hypertension or kidney problems. Even those without any chronic health conditions can be at risk without proper precautions.
• Ask your sports organization or trainer if they have a plan for extreme heat.
• Ask a friend or buddy to watch you during extreme heat; if you suffer from asthma, carry your inhaler with you and make others aware of your condition.
• Modify or reschedule your activities.
• Work out early in the day or in an air-conditioned facility.
• Check the Air Quality Index for air quality conditions.
• Check local weather forecasts so you can plan accordingly.
Keep yourself safe:
• Stay hydrated by drinking fluids and eating raw fruits and vegetables.
• Wear sunscreen and insect repellant.
• Allow your body to recover from heat exposure by sitting in the shade or heading to an air conditioned area.
• Watch for signs of heat exhaustion such as dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat and extreme thirst.
• Heat illnesses can lead to long-term health problems and even death. These illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, swelling of hands, feet and ankles, heat rash, heat cramps and dehydration.
• The most serious heat illness is heat stroke, which can be fatal. Symptoms include a core body temperature of 40.5ºC/105º F, confusion, lack of sweat and unconsciousness. Call 911 immediately if you see someone with these symptoms.
• If you see someone going into shock from heat stroke, move them to a cool place, apply cold water to large areas of their skin and clothing and fan them as much as possible.
More tips for staying safe in the heat can be found at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/sun.