How to prevent a body from overheating during exercise

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How to prevent a body from overheating during exercise
Your exercise intensity, duration, body size, state of hydration and clothing choices affect your internal body heat production. (exercise "wheel" image by Alex from Fotolia.com)

Exercise is fantastic for the body and can keep you healthy, strong and fit while keeping medical conditions like obesity or hypertension at bay. Unfortunately, you can contract hyperthermia, or overheating of the body, through hard exercise or when working out in hot environments or weather. Hyperthermia can cause symptoms of nausea, fatigue, hyperventilation and headaches. A temperature above 39.4 degrees Celsius can cause your body to experience chills or clammy skin and may cause heat stroke. The University of Copenhagen found that people with hyperthermia inadequately release heat from the brain. High body temperatures essentially cook your brain, which can cause you to pass out or die.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Water bottle
  • Light clothing

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Plan your exercise or physical activities for cooler times during the day. You can avoid high temperatures and overheating by planning workouts early in the day or in the late afternoon when the sun is setting. Decrease the intensity of your workouts if the temperature or humidity conditions are unfavourable.

  2. 2

    Consume fruits and vegetables 30 minutes to an hour before your workout to provide your body with valuable carbohydrates for fuel and to attain the high amounts of water that fruits and vegetables carry. These foods will help keep your body hydrated for your upcoming workout while providing you with glucose fuel for exercise.

  3. 3

    Choose and wear clothing appropriate for the exercise environment. Wear loose fitting, light-coloured clothing and expose plenty of skin so you can increase cooling by the evaporation of sweat. Remove your shoes, hat and other non-essential clothing and fan the skin if you feel like you are having an episode of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

  4. 4

    Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout. Fill your water bottle with fluids and carry it with you while you workout. Drink at least every 15 minutes and monitor your body temperature for overheating.

Tips and warnings

  • Sedentary and unfit individuals are more prone to suffer heat-related medical conditions.
  • Start exercising slowly and gradually increase your pace to give your body time to circulate the heat to your skin to dissipate.
  • Wear sun block if you are exercising outside to prevent sun burns and skin damage.
  • Learn and recognise the warning signs of overheating. These signs include heat cramps, excessive sweating, cold clammy skin, dizziness, weak and rapid pulse, shallow breathing, nausea and headache.

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