Insight Orthopedics & Sports Medicine – With warm summer weather just around the corner, it is important to be aware of the dangers of exercise-related heat illness (ERHI). Also known as heat injury, ERHI occurs when exercise is done in high temperatures and high humidity. ERHI impacts thousands of people each year and is responsible for over 700 deaths in the United States. Even though the threat of ERHI is very serious, this is an illness that is completely preventable with proper attention to safety and common sense. The following is a brief overview of heat illness and tips for staying safe this summer.

What are the Signs of Exercise-Related Heat Illness

  • Heat Fatigue & Cramps: Normal body temperature; painful muscle contractions (most often in leg muscles)
  • Heat Exhaustion: Body temperature up to 104°F; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; dizziness; fainting; flushed, moist skin
  • Heatstroke (life-threatening): Body temperature greater than 104°F, confusion, combativeness, seizures and/or stroke, shock, coma (unresponsive), and/or heart failure/cardiac arrest

Listen to Your Body

  • Human bodies try to keep a constant body temperature of around 98.6°F by balancing heat gain with heat loss.
  • Exercising muscles create 10 to 20 times more heat than resting muscles.
  • Sweating is the main way the body gets rid of excess heat.

What are Some Tips to Prevent ERHI?

  • Schedule activities during the coolest parts of the day (early morning or late afternoon/evening); consider canceling or delaying an activity under extreme conditions.
  • Allow athletes to gradually adjust to exercising in hot, humid weather by increasing activities slowly over the first 2 weeks of practice.
  • Avoid the use of excessive clothing and equipment.
  • Schedule breaks every 10 to 15 minutes during any activity that lasts longer than 1 hour.
  • Weigh athletes before and after each activity. Athletes should replace all of their weight lost during any exercise period prior to the next exercise period.

For more information about exercise-related heat illness and staying safe during hot weather physical activity, contact Insight Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.