Problem: Heat stroke
Why it happens: Exercising in the heat (outdoors or indoors) can overwhelm your body’s ability to control its core temperature. That can lead to heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition in which your heart, liver, kidney, and other organs shut down. In the last 20 years, 40 high school football players have died from heat stroke caused by workouts in hot weather, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina. Far less serious, but more common, is what happened to Pepe: heat exhaustion. That can cause muscle cramps and can make you light-headed, dizzy, and physically wiped out.
What to do: Drink plenty of fluids and watch out for the early signs of heat stroke, including dizziness and exhaustion. Stop if you start to feel feverish, dizzy, lightheaded, confused, or nauseated. Be especially cautious you’re at increased risk of heat illness because of your age (50 or older), your health (you are pregnant, or have heart disease, diabetes, or lung diseases), or the drugs you take (antidepressants, alpha-blockers and beta-blockers, antipsychotics, diuretics, antihistamines, and anticholinergic drugs).
Problem: Joint and muscle damage
Why it happens: Some people think they can stretch deeper in the heat. “Although it may feel good, overstretching your muscles actually backfires,” Win Chang, M.D., clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at New York University’s Hospital for Joint Diseases, said. That can lead to joint problems, inflammation, and arthritis. Orthopedic surgeons are seeing more and more yoga injuries, says Chang.
What to do: Avoid overstretching. You should feel tension, not pain. Hold the stretch; never bounce. That can cause small muscle tears.
Why it happens: Hot, humid gyms can be a breeding ground for germs.
What to do: Don’t share mats, towels, or clothing with others. If you use a gym mat, cover it with a clean towel, or clean with alcohol spray or wipes. Bandage any cuts or scrapes. And if the room is dirty or wet with sweat, leave.