Boulder’s weather has hit the triple digits in the past three days, setting records on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. With temperatures expected to stay in the mid-90s, hydration and safe exercise habits are important, especially for Boulder’s elite athlete population. To stay safe in the sun, follow these hydration and exercise tips:
1. Stay hydrated
For workouts shorter than 1 ½ hours, the Texas Heart Institute recommends loading up on 16 ounces of cool water 1-2 hours before a workout; 16 ounces 15 minutes before a workout; 5 ounces every 10 minutes during a workout; and at least 16 ounces following exercise. For workouts longer than 1 ½ hours, follow the same guidelines, but supplement with 34 ounces of cool water per hour of exercise. Experts agree that cool water -- as opposed to ice water -- is best, as it is more readily absorbed by the body.
2. Know the symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke
Signs of dehydration include feelings of weakness or dizziness, headache, nausea, muscle cramps, vomiting, and a rapid heartbeat. If any of these symptoms occur, stop exercising, get out of the sun, and drink cool water. Heat stroke may occur after dehydration, when the body is no longer able to cool itself by sweating and body temperature elevates. Symptoms of heat stroke are the same as dehydration, as well as high body temperature, inability to sweat, dry, red, or flushed skin, difficulty breathing, confusion, disorientation and in extreme cases, seizure or coma. If you or a friend experiences any of these symptoms, move to a shady area, remove clothing, and apply lukewarm water to the skin. Place ice packs under the groin or armpits, where blood vessels are more concentrated and better able to cool the body. Drink cool water, monitor body temperature, and call 911 for further help.
3. Wear appropriate clothing
Wear light, loose-fitting clothing that allows air to pass through and for sweat to dissipate. If possible, choose light-colored clothing; dark colors absorb heat. Pick a hat or visor and sunglasses to shield your face from the sun, and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Look for clothing made from fabrics like polyester, nylon, and Lycra, which absorb sweat.
4. Exercise in the early morning or late evening
Avoid exercising outside during the hours of 10AM and 4PM, when the sun's rays are at their strongest. Both have pros: pollution levels are lower in the morning, while pollen levels are lower in the evening. Or, skip the sun entirely and try to do as much of your workout as possible indoors.
5. Know your body
Certain medications and medical conditions may affect how your body responds to heat. Prescriptions like antipsychotic medications, antidepressants, and muscle relaxants as well as some antihistamines either promote heat storage or inhibit sweat glands, thereby hindering your body’s internal cooling system. Those with COPD and asthma are also at an increased risk for developing heat stroke; sweating requires energy, which requires oxygen, and people with respiratory disorders may already have trouble getting enough oxygen. Other conditions that may exacerbate the effects of heat exposure are kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It’s also important to pay attention to your body: some people may simply handle heat better than others. If the heat is intense and you feel “different” or strange, lower the intensity of your workout and seek shade and water.