• Dr Ferraro

Heat Disorders

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

Outdoor training is a gratifying experience; however, it requires much more attention, as temperature and humidity may vary rapidly unlike than in a gym environment. Therefore precaution should be used, especially during summer, we have to guard against all those risks that can come from excessive heat. But what are the main heat disturbances?

Exposure to stress from environmental heat can lead to three types of heat disorders: cramps, collapse and heat stroke.


  • Cramps are the less severe malaise of the three and are characterised by an intense state of contracture of skeletal muscles. The cramps affect the muscles most engaged in the exercise that we are doing (so if you went out jogging it might affect your lower limbs). The main cause of this disorder is due to dehydration caused by the loss of mineral salts and of course sweating


  • Collapse is associated with symptoms such as extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, vomiting, fainting, cold and wet skin, hypotension, confusion and rapid pulse. Collapse occurs when the cardiovascular system fails to satisfy the body’s demands, which can occur during a moderate activity performed at very high temperatures

  • Heat stroke is a pathological event that puts the person in danger of life and requires immediate medical attention. It is characterised by increased temperature, interruption of sweating, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse and breathing, hypertension, confusion and fainting. It is due to the collapse of the organism’s thermoregulatory mechanisms

Then, how to behave if you want to start exercising outdoors in the summer, avoiding any heat disorders






  • Timing. Keep in mind the timetable in which to perform your training. During the hottest hours, any activity is not recommended. Thus avoid the time slot between 12:00 and 16:00 and instead workout when the heat is less intense


  • Clothing. Assuming that you are aware that the more you sweat does NOT mean that you are losing more fat, avoid k-way (if there is no wind) or other clothing who increase sweating. It is better to opt for more breathable clothes that allow regular and proper sweating. Further advice: wearing a hat or a bandana, is always a good precaution as will keep your head safe from direct sun rays


  • Hydration. During your exercises do not forget that your body will need to remain hydrated, to avoid unpleasant accidents and to maintain the rate of electrolytes and high mineral salts


  • Environment. Prefer parks with shaded areas or other areas where you can stay a little cooler if needed.


  • Performance. The performance will unavoidably diminish in high temperature, at least in the initial phase. Give your body the time it needs to adapt to new stress, and after a few weeks at high temperatures, you can increase the volume, the intensity and the duration of the exercise.



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