Summer is almost here. With the increase in temperatures and humidity, it’s important to arm yourself with adequate information to prevent heat injury and related health risks.
Be prepared for the intense temperatures that fluctuate throughout the weeks. According to Lauren King, registered dietitian, "Without exercise, it is recommended that you drink your body weight in pounds divided by 2. This will calculate the fluid ounces you need to drink per day."
For example: 120 pounds ÷ 2 = 60 ounces of water per day. With exercise, you should hydrate by drinking 16 ounces (1/2 canteen) two hours prior to exercise, 4-8 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise, and 16-24 ounces after exercise.
King also suggested that people should consume sports drinks for hydration, glucose and electrolytes to improve endurance performance, but these types of drinks should only be consumed when exercising for longer than 60 minutes. Proper fueling with diet is just as important as hydration.
It is recommended that you eat 55-65 percent of your daily intake of food from carbohydrates, which fuel the muscles and the brain. Twenty-30 percent should come from fats, which absorb vitamins and cushion organs, tissues and joints. Fifteen-20 percent should come from protein, which builds and repairs muscle.
Without proper nutrition and hydration, injuries can occur while performing physical activity outside in the intense climate.
According to Veronica Nelson, director of physical fitness and health promotion, "The body can only survive at a narrow range of core temperatures, and an increase in body temperature can lead to several impairments, such as, short-term memory becoming less reliable, and perceptual and motor skills slowing down."
Heat injuries can be prevented by establishing a good work/rest schedule. It is recommended to work out in cooler hours and avoid working out in direct sunlight. It is also important to wear loose clothing and to drink small amounts of water regardless of thirst.
On base, there is a flag system, below, but when deciding to exercise outside regardless of climate, it’s important to understand what is happening when experiencing a heat injury.
"Those who have suffered from heat injuries are more susceptible to another episode more easily," Nelson said.
There are three types of heat injuries: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat injury. Some of the symptoms include painful contractions in the muscles, limbs, abdomen or back.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include, profuse sweating, headaches, tingling in the hands or feet, paleness, difficulty breathing and an irregular heartbeat. A heat exhaustion occurs because of electrolyte imbalances due to loss of salt and low blood pressure caused by water loss. Even if your body temperature may seem normal, heat exhaustion may still occur.
The last and most severe case of heat injury is a heat stroke. Symptoms include early signs of dizziness, delirium, excessive weakness, trembling and momentary loss of consciousness. Because sweating may or may not be present, a sudden collapse and loss of consciousness can be followed with a coma. During a heat stroke, body temperatures can be as high as 106 degrees.
When experiencing these heat injuries, move to a shaded area and slowly drink large amounts of cool water, pour water on your body, elevate your legs for blood flow circulation and seek immediate medical assistance and evacuation.
Because of the gradual rise and fall in temperatures, it is easy to misjudge the intensity of the heat. In addition to the heat condition flag system, Semper Fit has implemented the H2O to Go service which provides thirteen water jugs around base from Labor Day weekend until after the Marine Corps Marathon. It’s imperative to take all preventive measures into consideration when exercising outside.