This post offers insights and tips for Fibromyalgia patients who participate in hot weather workouts and sports. These tips and insights might pertain to other hot situations—such as working out in a stuffy gym in the winter— but the focus of this piece pertains to working out and playing sports in hot weather.
Keep in mind that although hot weather causes specific workout worries, starting a workout program at any time of the year in any weather causes worry. No matter the time of year or temperature, everyone needs to get a doctor’s approval before getting sweaty. Furthermore, dehydration can occur any time of year under a myriad of circumstances. Click here to learn about the symptoms of dehydration.
Working out in hot weather subjects people to heat stroke and other dangerous conditions. Always pay attention to heat advisories and consider working out only in shaded areas or at cooler times of the day. Consult your doctor about your outdoor workouts and activities.
And finally, there’s never a reason to chug water non-stop. Excessive water consumption leads to a rare—though life-threatening—condition called water intoxication.
Now, let’s talk about getting sweaty with fibromyalgia in hot weather and let’s start with the famous number eight…
Eight Is Enough
We’ve all heard and read that people need to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. It’s one of the most commonly repeated medical mantras.
Here’s something funny about that piece of advice, though: not all medical professionals agree on that advice. The reason for the disagreement?
Well, humans do lose water via a whole host of biological processes including sweating, bowel movements, and even breathing. But the eight-glasses-of-water-a-day rule fails to account for the fact that beverages like coffee or fruits and veggies contain water. Therefore, they help replenish water lost via normal biological processes.
Another thing about eight-glasses-a-day: It doesn’t need to be eight glasses of water. That’s right. Water still takes the number spot in terms of liquid replenishment, but other liquids count toward the daily hydration goal. Numerous medical professionals think replacing “water” with “fluid” works just as well.
Individual Hydration Concerns
Eight glasses of water a day also fails to factor in how hard a person works out or other individual concerns such as
If worried you’re not getting enough liquids, keep a diary of how you look and feel in terms of hydration. Record the foods and drinks you consume along with your activities. Once you record a month or so of data, let your doctor review it to see if you need to amend anything.
Heat, Hydration, and Fibromyalgia
As far as hot weather goes, evidence shows that it causes all types of chronic pain problems. For those with fibromyalgia, fibro flares become an extra concern.
The trouble with much of this evidence is that it’s largely anecdotal.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that while many fibromyalgia patients feel exercise helps them, others feel it hinders them because it causes unbearable pain and even triggers fibro flares. In fact, fibro patients report that anything causes fibro flares, especially things that cause bad stress or that occur outside of the normal routine.
A lack of hard scientific studies sounds disheartening, but I want to put that aside for a moment. After all, when have you found the overall medical community to be a big fibromyalgia ally? Of course, exceptions exist, but the condition often demands a good deal of self-awareness and self-management.
Therefore, when fibromyalgia patients from all walks of life find that hot weather and exercise cause them to suffer pain and flares, it means something. A good number of them actually prefer working out so it only makes sense to find ways to lessen that suffering.
Working Out in the Heat
At the end of the day, no medical professional needs to tell us that drinking healthy amounts of water and other fluids help us look perkier, avoid cracked lips, avoid bad breath, maintain oral health, and feel more refreshed. Furthermore, it helps prevent
Fibromyalgia patients frequently suffer from the above conditions; in fact, they’re hallmarks of fibro flares. Staying hydrated makes a lot of sense. Still, hydration may not be the only thing to consider when working out in hot weather.
Some pain meds may become less effective due to heat induced inflammation. This may mean that medications need to be adjusted under the guidance of a doctor.
Wearing the right type of clothing matters. Make sure the clothing is light in both color and material to prevent tensing up from the heat that heavy materials and dark colors cause. Cotten works best in terms of staying cool and people who suffer from allodynia sometimes find it feels better on their skin.
Consider working out in the early morning or the early evening, when the both temperature and the sun go down.
Keep a bottle of water in the freezer. Take it with you during your workout. You can carry it in a light backpack or in a fanny pack. Consider carrying a small spray bottle to spritz water on your face and body.
Make sure to keep your home a comfortable temperature so when you return home, it’s like you’re entering an oasis. Find a cool, relaxing place to unwind from your workout. This post- workout session should help your muscles unwind and recover, plus allow you to ease back into the rest of the day. Less stress means less of a chance of pain or a fibro flare.
Stay safe and enjoy your time in the sun! ~JC
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