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AssociatedPress

Heart Association: Don’t stop exercising

Statement issued Friday:

(Fort Wayne, IN) July 22, 2011 – You’ve been exercising regularly, but now it is summer – and so hot you’re probably thinking it is too hot to work out. But don’t decide this is the time for a little summer break from fitness, experts say, because you may be hurting yourself in the longer term.

“It’s important to continue exercising over the summer because the effects of exercise training are rapidly lost once training stops – use it or lose it,” said Dr. Scott Mann, President of the American Heart Association Fort Wayne Board of Directors. “Most studies suggest many of the key benefits are lost in four to six weeks of inactivity.”

Be smarter than the heat

Still, you can’t just ignore the heat because you could wind up with heat stress, heat stroke or other problems. So to keep the heat from melting your workouts, Dr. Mann recommends you:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Maintain salt-water balance by drinking plenty of fluids (preferably water) before, during and after physical activity. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
  • Exercise smarter, not harder. Work out during the cooler parts of the day, preferably when the sun’s radiation is minimal – early in the morning or early in the evening. Decrease exercise intensity and duration at high temperatures or relative humidity. And don’t hesitate to take your exercise inside, to the gym, the mall or anyplace else where you can get in regular physical activity.
  • Ease in to summer. Allow your body to adapt partially to heat through repeated gradual daily exposures. “An increase in the body’s circulatory and cooling efficiency, called acclimatization, generally occurs in only four to 14 days,” Mann said.
  • Dress the part. Wear minimal amounts of clothing to facilitate cooling by evaporation. Your clothing should be lightweight and light-colored in breathable fabrics such as cotton. “Remember, it’s not sweating that cools the body; rather, the evaporation of sweat into the atmosphere,” Mann said.
  • Team up. If you can, exercise with a friend or family member. It’s safer, and could be more fun.
Know what’s up

Because vigorous exercise in hot and humid conditions can lead to heat stress, heat stroke and related complications, you should know the signs of danger to keep an eye out for.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Headaches
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, moist skin, chills
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Warm, dry skin with no sweating
  • Strong and rapid pulse
  • Confusion and/or unconsciousness
  • High fever
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Nausea, vomiting or both
Take steps to cool down and get medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. For more tips, visit www.heart.org.

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