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Beating the Heat and keeping your cool during COVID-19 – Advice from Intermountain Healthcare

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The heat is on! As temperatures rise, so does the risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Getting outside for activities and exercise is one of the few things people can do during the COVID-19 pandemic, but recent high temperatures in Utah can bring with it a new set of issues.

Working out and getting even moderate exercise is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, because it helps keep people active and benefits your mental wellbeing.

However, recent high temperatures in Utah have brought a new challenge of heat-related issues. That’s why Intermountain Healthcare experts are reminding people the importance of staying hydrated and eating right.

– Drink plenty of water

You may need to drink more than you might think. Ashley Hagensick, an Intermountain Healthcare Sports Dietitian at TOSH, recommends you drink half your body weight in ounce per day.

That means if you weigh 200 pounds, to stay hydrated properly, you’d be drinking 100 ounces of any beverage, not just water. You may need to increase that number if it’s hot outside, you’re at altitude, outside for more than an hour, or exercising vigorously.

“That may seem like a lot, but even mild dehydration can cause headaches, sleepiness, dizziness, and constipation,” said Hagensick. “You may experience mild dehydration before you’re even aware you need a drink, so remember to drink before you’re thirsty.”

Ashley Hagensick with Intermountain Healthcare shares these tips on how to increase your water intake:

  • Take a water bottle with you everywhere you go, so you can drink a little bit at a time no matter where you are. Invest in a sturdy bottle you can reuse.
  • Recommendations before you go outside: 16-20 ounces 4 hours before, 8-12 ounces 10-15 minutes before, 3-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during (sports drink preferably if over 1 hour), 16-24 ounces per pound lost after (weight lost during exercise/activity is water weight and needs to be replenished)
  • Put a small amount of sodium in drinking water to help better absorb and pull water into the cell. The recommendation is 110-220 mg per 8 ounces fluid.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. They have a high water content which means they count toward your daily total. Stock your grocery cart with summer favorites like melons, peaches, and grapes. You can also freeze fruit and water in a popsicle mold for a hydrating summer treat.
  • Drink other beverages too. Milk, juice, coffee, tea, even soup—it all counts toward your daily total! One thing that doesn’t count is alcohol, which may cause dehydration.
  • If you do drink alcohol, drink an extra glass of water to make up for its dehydrating effects.
  • Set a reminder on your phone to drink something every hour. This will help you stay hydrated all day long. 

Experts say a person’s diet is also an important part of preventing heat illness. Along with staying hydrated, eating healthy and nutritious foods can help prevent problems. Experts remind people to eat enough food for the intensity of the workout they’re doing.

Following these tips can help you have a healthy and hydrated summer. Plus, you’ll get all those great benefits like productivity boosts, better digestive health, clearer skin, and more.

How to spot heat related illness

There are several types of heat-related illnesses including, mild issues like heat rash or heat cramps. The more extreme cases include heat exhaustion and even heat stroke which can be fatal. Symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you have any of these symptoms it’s important to rest in a cool, shaded location, and drink plenty of water. A more severe symptom of heatstroke is a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher, and in that case, a person should cool down quickly, either in an ice bath or using ice packs and seek emergency medical attention.

Here are a few additional tips to avoid heat-related illnesses:

  • Do outside activities in the early morning or late evenings.
  • Avoid the hottest parts of the day which is usually between 3-5 pm.
  • Avoid workouts on artificial turf or concrete. The temperature can be much higher on those surfaces due to sun exposure.

For More information visit Intermountain Healthcare via their Blog, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook. If you or a family member is experiencing a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1.

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