Adapting To A Hot Workout

With the temperatures outdoors rising, it's important to take a few extra precautions for a safe summer workout, CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports.

Your body's adaptation to the demands of hot weather is called acclimatization. Experts suggest easing into exercise until you learn how to shed the extra heat efficiently.

The body has two main ways to adapt to heat:

One is to dilate blood vessels near the skin. Blood that's heated in the body core by exercise can be cooled by radiating the heat through the skin into the air. Dilated blood vessels bring more blood to the skin.

The other method is by sweat production, which acts more like a car's air conditioner. Evaporation has a cooling effect. And when sweat evaporates, it gives up heat, which cools the skin.

If you exercise outdoors, the simplest solution may be to switch your workout time to early morning or late afternoon, when the sun isn't as hot. But that won't be practical for everyone, so here are a few other ideas:

  • The most important tool for any warm-weather athlete is water or other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic liquids. The body needs adequate fluids to sweat, and sweating is what prevents you from overheating.

    In warm weather, you should always drink one or two glasses of water right before and right after any physical activity. And if the workout lasts more than 30 minutes, you should drink while exercising, too.

  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing because it allows the sweat to evaporate freely from your skin. Put on a hat or other protection for your head, and don't forget sunscreen.
  • Try to avoid exercising on asphalt or paved surfaces, because they transmit heat.
  • Stay out of busy traffic areas to avoid exhaust fumes. The carbon monoxide is more dangerous in hot weather.
  • If all else fails, take the exercise routine indoors to an air-conditioned facility, or find a pool and do some laps.
To avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke, be aware of your body's needs. If you're thirsty, you're behind in fluids. If you feel nauseous or dizzy or feel like you're going to pass out, get into a cool area and replenish fluids.