Easing into outdoor workouts on sultry summer days

Mon Jul 8, 2013 4:11am EDT
 
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Can't take the heat?

Fitness experts say one way for outdoor exercisers who dread the long, hot summer days of steamy runs and breathless aerobics during a heat wave is to embrace it.

"It takes most healthy people 10 to 14 days to fully acclimate to exercising in the heat," said Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise. "In order to achieve that you need to be exercising in heat."

The heat-acclimated individual will sweat sooner and that sweat will be more dilute, Bryant said. There will be a lower risk for dehydration and a reduction in the heat gained through exercise that will help maintain a lower core temperature and heart rate response.

He said as much as 25 percent of the healthy population is estimated to be heat intolerant in an unacclimated state. Once they get acclimated that drops to 2 percent.

A 2011 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control showed that about 6,000 people a year seek emergency treatment for heat illnesses suffered while playing sports or participating in other recreational activities outdoors.

While acclimating to the physiological demands of the heat, Bryant said, be sure to tone down your workout.

"Strictly adhere to the talk test (the ability to talk as a gauge of correct exercise intensity)," he said. "It's not a time to do intervals or high-intensity exercises. Afterwards, when you're fully acclimated, you can ramp up intensity."   Continued...

 
A man works out in an outdoor exercise area at Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx section of New York City, September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar