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It’s Getting Hot in Here

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The dog days of summer are officially upon us. As it gets hotter and hotter outside, our bodies have to work harder and harder to keep our internal temperature cool while we work in the yard or play a sport. The average internal body temperature is between 97.7 and 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. To maintain this temperature range, the body circulates additional blood and promotes sweating. During exercise, the body produces heat, as our muscles contract, and elevates the heart rate to promote blood circulation. 3DPT Getting HotWhen exercising in hotter temperatures, the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood both for temperature control as well as to help with muscle activation. Sweat, which is made up of water and electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and chloride), cools the body by using heat energy to evaporate. At times when the humidity is about 50% or higher (which feels like just about every day in New Jersey), this evaporation does not happen as regularly which slightly negates the cooling.

If a person is exposed to the heat for too long and loses too much water, they can become dehydrated - or worse. Here are the signs to look for if you suspect someone has a heat related illness. Athletic trainers are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating these conditions. Athletes can talk to them when exercising or playing in the heat.

  • Dehydration – When your body lacks the proper amount of fluid. You can actually stop sweating or urinating at this point. Signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, tingling in the limbs, and extreme fatigue. Drink water or a sports drink to rehydrate.
  • Muscle cramps – Hard spasms in the muscles, most commonly in the calves and quadriceps, from losing electrolytes while sweating. Stretch the cramps out, and drink a sports drink to replenish.
  • Heat exhaustion – Body temperature rises too high and can reach up to 104 degrees. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, clammy skin, and fainting. Seek medical attention.
  • Heat stroke – Body temperature exceeds 104 degrees. Symptoms include confusion and irritability as well as possible lack of sweating. Seek medical attention.

3DPT Getting HotWhat to do about the heat:

  • If you are doing yard work, try to work early in the morning, or late at night to avoid to peak times of the heat.
  • Drink 2 glasses of water about an hour before you are doing work or playing a sport in hot weather.
  • Wear loose, light colored clothing to allow your body to sweat. Cotton is better at absorbing the sweat and will make you feel cooler when a breeze blows
  • If you will be outside for less than an hour, try to drink water every 15 minutes
  • If you will be outside for more than an hour, try to drink water or a sports drink every 15 minutes to replenish electrolytes
  • If you are working hard or playing sports outdoors for a prolonged period of time, try to consume 4 cups of water for every pound of weight lost. You also want to ingest carbohydrates and protein to replenish your body's stores of energy.

Ken Guzzardo, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS
Jeff Sallade, PT, MSPT, OCS, SCS, CSCS
Ryan McDevitt, DPT

3 Dimensional Physical Therapy
175 Route 70 W, Suite 19
Medford, NJ 08055
Direct questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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