With regard to your health it is most important to take regular exercise and be as active as possible. However, the summer, while providing probably the best time of year for a full range of activities, also comes with some potential health risks, especially related to heat.

Most people know that extreme heat can make us sick. But we may think of heat related illness as something that only affects people who are overdoing it on a hot and muggy day. But certain people can develop heat stroke while sitting perfectly still on the couch during high temperatures.

The body reacts to heat in many ways. For instance, hot temperatures make your heart beat faster. That’s not only if you’re exercising. Even if you’re sitting perfectly still, your heart will be beating harder when you’re hot. That’s because the heart is working harder to push blood to the skin and muscles. Getting blood closer to the surface of the body gets it to cool down and helps with sweating.

In order to work well, the body has to stay at a normal temperature. If it heats up even by a few degrees, your body starts to cool itself. The most obvious and familiar reaction is that you start to sweat. As the hot perspiration evaporates off your skin, you’re cooled down.

During heat illness, the body’s cooling system shuts down. Body temperature goes up, which inhibits the ability to sweat. Mild symptoms of heat exhaustion include thirst, fatigue, and cramps in the legs or abdomen.

Left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. When the body can’t get rid of excess heat fast enough and the cooling system breaks down, the organs begin to overheat. If they get hot enough, they’ll stop working. That’s heat stroke and it’s a medical emergency.

Serious heat-related symptoms include dizziness, headaches, nausea, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, decreased alertness, a temperature as high as 105 F or more, confusion, seizures, permanent disability, and even death. Dont forget to drink plenty of water at all times, keep well!