Don’t sweat it
Students find heat complicates daily activities
Madison Dennis | Editor-in-Chief
Liz Cranor, sophomore in advertising, tries to run 3.1 miles every day.
“It’s been my workout for a long time – a 5k,” Cranor said.
However, with the recent heat index reaching up to 105 degrees, Cranor has been getting out of shape.
Rob Hefley, professor in health, human performance and recreation, said that the summer heat has a marked negative impact on those who spend active time outdoors.
“Heat illness is a lot like a hydroelectric power plant,” Hefley said. “You need water to keep things running, and when you start losing water, you start losing power. It starts affecting the neural system.”
Cranor says that she has recently taken to cutting her runs short, despite starting in the evening.
“It just gets to the point where no matter how easy my pace is or how much water I drink, I’m still feeling weak and sick if I’m working out outside,” Cranor said. “I really hate running on treadmills, so I’m kind of stuck until things cool down.”
Hefley says that most symptoms of heat illness are related to dehydration.
“You really have to drink past when your thirst sensors are satisfied before you’re replenished,” Hefley said. Hefley also says that although you might drink enough water one day, that doesn’t guarantee you won’t get dehydrated later.
“If you’re not getting enough water day after day, over the course of a few days your body will become very dehydrated. Just drinking enough for one day won’t be enough,” Hefley said.
Taylor Johnson, sophomore in education, says that she often plays pickup basketball games outside, until it starts to get hot.
“I’m lucky because I like to play whether it’s indoors or outdoors, so I’ve already moved inside for the summer,” Johnson said. “There’s definitely a difference in performance, though, because when you’re outdoors the game starts to lag a lot faster and people want the games to be shorter. You’ll play to 30 indoors and to 15 outdoors.”
Johnson says that she has occasionally had to sit out a game because of heat exhaustion.
“There’s been a few times where I’ve been really into the game and not wanted to quit, and felt really dizzy and weak and had to sit it out,” Johnson said. “Having to play inside all the time, you miss the variety of people that you play outside.”
“A combination of heat and lack of water can raise your internal body temperature past what’s healthy,” Hefley said. “The best thing to do is just use common sense.”
Hefley also says that certain demographics are more prone to heat illnesses than others, including children, senior citizens and the overweight.
Beyond keeping hydrated, Hefley says that getting acclimated to the high temperatures can help the body adjust to the stress.
“One of the biggest factors is being acclimated,” Hefley said. “If you know you’ll want to be outdoors a lot, take a week to spend outside and that can really help.”
Hefley also says that physical fitness has little to do with who is affected by heat illness. “Even highly trained athletes can suffer,” Hefley said. “Everyone’s prone to it.”