August 6, 2009

Exercisers: Check heat index

Check the heat index, a U.S. sports health expert tells those exercising or competing in summer's heat and humidity.

Gary Sforzo of Ithaca College in New York said checking the heat index before working out will help avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

The heat index combines the ambient temperature and humidity, Sforzo explains. Exercising in 100 degree heat in Texas when humidity is about 50 percent requires the same level of caution as exercising on the East Coast in 90 degree heat with humidity close to 90 percent.

Don't become obsessed about it, but if in doubt, if climatic conditions are changing, or if you are competing and you know you are going to ratchet it up, you want to be on the safe side and that might just mean taking in a little more fluid if it gets extreme, Sforzo says in a statement.

You have to start questioning the wisdom of competing; canceling is better than getting sick, he said. If you are not acclimatized or ready for this situation, it can be a real danger.