Physiologist Kevin Kregel says you don’t have to be a prisoner of an air-conditioned room as your body can adjust to the conditions.
“Certainly, the human body can acclimatize to heat, but it takes time and it takes a lot of common sense,” Kregel says. “You start out slow and you incrementally increase your exposure, your activity levels. Certainly, the opportunity to get out and exercise on a daily basis, you shouldn’t let the heat scare you away. You just want to plan around the right times of the day and do other precautions.”
He says people in Nebraska — and everywhere, really — don’t adjust well to very cold temperatures, but warm temperatures are a different story.
“Over a period of several days to couple of weeks, you can see dramatic changes in the human body as to how we cope with heat and how we perform in the heat,” Kregel explains. “You’ll see improvements in your ability to sweat, your core body temperature isn’t going to increase to the same extent. You’ll be able to work longer and harder in terms of exercise bouts and things like that, so it’s really a remarkable transition over a short period of time.”
Kregel says you should use sunscreen as sun-burned skin keeps the body from cooling itself off. Keep yourself hydrated as you go into the heat.
“Fluids that are replacement-type beverages, sport-type drinks are helpful because they replace electrolytes. If you are out and have the opportunity to get into the shade periodically — that’s beneficial — or into an air-conditioned spot,” Kregel says.
Drink the fluids before during and after you are outside. He says other common sense things, like wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing are important. Don’t drink beverages with caffeine or alcohol in them as they can cause dehydration.
Kregel warns that older adults and children have a lower tolerance for the heat.