What is Heat Illness?
There are milder forms like heat rash, cramps in the larger muscles, and leg swelling after exercise. The most common form is Heat Exhaustion and the least common but most dangerous is Heat Stroke.
Symptoms of Heat Illness
Common symptoms may include profuse sweating, weakness, headache, nausea, and at times vomiting, fainting or inability to stand. Mental status is intact. Heat stroke includes all the above symptoms of heat exhaustion plus confusion and inability to think clearly and other symptoms of decreased mental status.
What Temperature is the highest risk?
Heat illness appears at any temperature depending on the humidity. The heat index (see below) predicts risk based on temperature and humidity. Your local newspaper, TV station or the National Weather Service provides information on humidity for the day. Just look at this table and judge the risk for Heat Illness on any day you ride or exercise outside.
How does your body Adapt to Heat during exercise?
The blood flow increases to your skin and you sweat. This ability is influenced by the health of your blood vessels, medications, age, diseases,
clothing, lack of sleep and how well your body is accustomed-acclimatized to the heat.
Diabetes may influence the health of your blood vessels.
Who is at higher risk?
Older riders with diseases like diabetes and those taking certain medications like cold pills,
antidepressants and certain heart medications may
be at increased risk.
These diseases and medications influence your ability to sweat and accommodate to increased heat. But that does not mean you should not exercise. Recognize your risk and be prepared to prevent problems.
Gradually increase your distance and resist large jumps in distance without prior practice at that distance in the heat.
Give your body time to become accustomed (acclimatize) to exercise in the heat. It takes about 14 days of exercise in similar heat to acclimatize.
Check the heat index (table below) -limit exposure when heat index over 100.
The day before a long ride take the day off from riding, eat a balanced diet (with some extra salt), get a good nights sleep
Stop and remove your helmet periodically-20% of your body heat is released from your head-also pour cool water on your head
Wear light weight—light colored clothing-for better heat reflection
Every hour-Drink a bottle of cool water and stretch your leg muscles
Make frequent stops and go in the shade with your helmet off and hydrate—especially if your legs feel weak
If you have diabetes know how to control your blood sugar during exercise. Check your blood sugar before, during and after exercise to learn how your body responds to exercise.