When you exert yourself physically during exercise, your body generates heat and your internal body temperature rises. Your body's natural cooling system kicks in and you begin to sweat. Usually, as the sweat evaporates off your body your body temperature stabilizes and remains at an acceptable level. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. If your hypothalamus isn't able to keep up with temperature regulation, your body can overheat, leading to heat-related illness like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can take steps during exercise to help prevent your body from overheating.
Drink two cups of water approximately 30 minutes before you begin your exercise program to help stay hydrated during your workout.
Check the weather before exercising outside. If the forecast predicts very hot or very humid weather, plan on exercising in the morning or evening when the weather is cooler, or change up your plans and exercise indoors.
Dress to stay cool. Lightweight, loose, light colored, moisture-wicking exercise clothing will help pull the sweat away from your body and allow it to evaporate and cool you down. Avoid cotton materials that hold moisture in and dry slowly. These can actually trap your body's heat and lead to overheating.
Carry water with you at all times. As you sweat, your body loses fluid and you can become dehydrated. Dehydration prevents your body from regulating temperature appropriately and you can begin to overheat. Drink water every few minutes in an effort to replace your lost fluids.
Pay attention to signs of overheating. Symptoms like dizziness, headache, weakness, muscle cramps and nausea can all point to heat-related illness. If you begin feeling ill while exercising, stop what you're doing, drink water and cool yourself down by heading indoors to a cool location or wetting your skin with water.
Things You'll Need
Moisture wicking exercise gear
Avoid drinking alcohol before you exercise, as it can lead to dehydration. If you plan on exercising for an extended period of time, consider carrying an electrolyte drink with you to help replace sodium, potassium and chlorine in your body as you sweat them out of your system. This will help you regulate body temperature. Allow yourself to acclimate to hot temperatures by gradually ramping up your exercise routine when exercising outdoors in the heat.
Heat exhaustion can quickly become heat stroke if you fail to take measures to cool yourself down. Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening illness. If you notice changes in consciousness, flushed skin or a cessation of sweating, call 911 immediately.