Healthy Louisiana: Heat Wave
In theory, summer lasts from June 21 to Sept. 23. But in reality, Louisiana summers can last anywhere from mid-April to mid-October.
If you like exercising outdoors, what can you do to work out safely during the brutally hot and humid Louisiana summers? Here are three tips for safe outdoor workouts when the temperatures are on the rise.
See Your Doctor
Dr. Vincent Shaw, program director of the Family Medicine Program at Baton Rouge, said anyone starting an exercise regimen should see a doctor first to make sure their bodies can handle the strain.
“You want to make sure you’re healthy enough to exercise, especially in the heat,” Dr. Shaw said.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
This one seems like it’s common knowledge, but many people don’t know the best way to hydrate. Dr. Shaw said it is important to hydrate at least 30 minutes before exercising in the heat. If you are working out in the sun for a long time, rehydrate after 45 minutes, then at 30 minute intervals after that. Each time, drink at least 6 to 8 ounces of water or Powerade or Gatorade. Do not drink soda, tea, coffee or beer. “You don’t want to wait until you’re thirsty,” Dr. Shaw said.
Know the Warning Signs
Heat exhaustion can manifest itself with symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramping, headache, and rapid pulse. If you start feeling these symptoms, stop all activity immediately and go inside an air conditioned space, or if one is not available, seek shade. Hydrate and use cool water or towels lower your body temperature.
Heat exhaustion can progress to potentially fatal heat stroke if not addressed. Heat stroke can feature nausea and vomiting, skin that is warm to the touch, dizziness and confusion, slurred speech, and lack of sweating despite the heat. The confusion element may prevent someone suffering from heat stroke to seek medical attention.
The point of exercising is to be healthy. Exercise early in the morning or late in the evening during the summer and never be ashamed to listen to your body if it’s telling you the heat is too much on a given day.
If you are with someone who shows those symptoms, call 911 immediately and cool off the afflicted person while you wait for the ambulance. Lying down with legs elevated can also get blood flowing to the heart.