Exercise and Heat Related Illness

Summer is a dangerous time in the desert, and more so for active people. The intensity of the sun coupled with the extreme temperatures create a dangerous situation in a very short amount of time. If you are going to exercise outdoors in the desert, sports medicine professionals recommend knowing about heat related illness.


Even for those who do not exercise, the dry desert air causes you to lose moisture from your body very quickly. This is exacerbated when exercising since you are also sweating out a lot of fluid. Always have a hydration plan and adequate supply of liquids if your workout will be outdoors. Drink cool but not cold water, and plenty of it. Sports medicine pros recommend at least 32 ounces per hour when active. Avoid alcohol as it actually depletes your body’s fluid stores additionally.

Heat Stroke

The normal average body temperature is 98.6, and your body can tolerate a small range around that standard. When you are aggressively exercising in high temperatures or exposed to temperature extremes for too long, there is critical (potentially fatal) danger to your brain and organ tissue. Very young or old people are more vulnerable to heat stroke so should be especially cautious. Avoid being in extreme temperatures for long periods of time and exercise early in the morning.

Sunburn and Sun Poisoning

In the blazing desert sun, it only takes a few minutes to be sunburned. After too much time in the sun without protection, you can become severely burned and incur a condition called sun poisoning, when you may get blisters, chills, nausea, fever, and swelling of the affected skin. Swimmers, golfers, and softball players often don’t think about the aftermath of sunburn, and eventually develop skin cancers as a result. Always wear sunscreen when you are outside, and when possible opt for a lightweight long sleeve shirt and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

Sports medicine professionals encourage outdoor exercise, but want you to be mindful of what can happen if you are unprepared for or ignore the dangers of desert summer.

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