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Phoenix doctor offers advice for exercising safely in summer heat

(Facebook Photo/Runner's High)

PHOENIX – With many Arizonans heading outside for their workouts due to Gov. Doug Ducey’s statewide closure of gyms, a doctor in Phoenix has offered tips for residents about the prevention and identification of heat related illnesses.

Dr. Kareem Shaarawy, a sports medicine physician at Barrow Neurological Institute, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that heat-related illnesses typically manifest in three stages:

  • Heat cramps and muscle fatigue
  • Heat exhaustion categorized by an increase in overall body temperature, headache and dizziness
  • Heat stroke categorized by confusion, a lack of sweating, organ failure and convulsions

The best way to avoid these symptoms is by remaining hydrated, according to Shaarawy.

He added that those exercising should be hydrating at least 24 hours before — and even during — workouts. Shaarawy recommends a sports drink like Gatorade for anyone exercising outdoors longer than an hour.

“It is important to remember that in a dry heat, unlike in more humid climates, we do not always sweat all the time,” he said.

“So if we are waiting to replenish our fluids once we start sweating or we become thirsty, then we are likely behind in fluids.”

Another way to avoid heat related illnesses is to prepare before heading outdoors.

Taking a cool shower and leaving one’s hair wet before going into the heat for a run can lower a person’s body temperature, according Shaarawy. He added that wearing a we hat while running can have a similar effect.

Exercising in the shade and avoiding concrete as much as possible are also wise precautions for health summer exercise, according to Shaarawy

As dehydration remains a leading factor for heat related illnesses, Shaarawy encouraged anyone exercising outdoors to pay attention to what they’re drinking.

“We know alcohol consumption has been significantly elevated in the past couple weeks and months,” Shaarawy said.

“The consumption of alcohol increases your risk of dehydration as well,” Shaarawy said.

He also advised Arizonans to be mindful of the dehydrating effects of drinking an excessive amount of caffeine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit

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