The male’s larger body mass makes him more prone to heat stroke and dehydration.
Some time ago, an antiperspirant commercial featured male cheerleaders and the line, “Men sweat more than women”. As the months approach, body odor may be the least of a man’s problems. The sizzling heat also brings a barrage of health related illnesses, including heat exhaustion, a condition wherein the body becomes dehydrated and weak as a result of environmental heat exposure. In such cases, the body temperature can do rise above the normal level of 37 degrees Celsius. Once body temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius, heat stroke ensues, which can be deadly. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are:
Pale, cool, moist skin that’s sweating profusely;
Racing pulse that may be faint;
Muscle cramps or pains
Fainting, dizziness, clumsiness or stumbling, and
Occasional headache, weakness, thirst and nausea
Anyone can suffer from heat exhaustion, but men are at a much greater risk for two reasons: lifestyle and anatomy. First, occupations dominated by males, such as being a soldier, fireman, or factory worker, have greater heat or sun exposure. Furthermore, men in general engage I more strenuous activities than women do. In athletics, men play more rigorous sports, such as football and extreme sports. These result in more sweating and dehydration.
Next, the male body is generally more prone to heat stroke. Men have a larger muscle mass, which generates more heat. Plus, they have a smaller body-surface-to-mass ratio, which means there is less surface from which body heat can escape. Also, it seems that women possess some hormonal factors that allow them to activate mechanisms that regulate body temperature much earlier and store less body heat. For example, women sweat earlier, which means they don’t need to sweat a lot because body heat is released early. In contrast, by the time men perspire, a lot of body heat already needs to be released, so more sweat is needed to lower body temperatures.
Quench the heat. This will always be at the tope of any beat-the-heat list, because you will not get heat exhaustion without dehydration. The eight glasses of water a day that we have been told since childhood to consume are not enough during summer. For some people, this may mean drinking up to 16 glasses of water a day. If you are not sure if you are drinking enough, observe the color of your urine. Once it is dark yellow, you are already dehydrated and need to increase fluid intake.
Train under fire. You may have been told to stay away from the heat. This may prevent heat exhaustion, but it will not help you build resistance against heat stress. If your lifestyle requires you to stay under the sun (which is expected in the summer), train your body to take the heat instead. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends training in the heat to improve how your body copes with it. This is called heat acclimatization. Exercise under the early morning or late afternoon sun, or a warm non-air-conditioned gym every day for 10 to 14 consecutive days. Each session should last for a maximum of 40 minutes, with frequent rests and stretches in between. During exercise, wear light clothing made of breathable material. While stressing your body with this regimen, avoid heat exhaustion by drinking lots of water and sports drinks. Stop and rest as soon as you feel dizzy. Always train with a buddy. Do not attempt to do this regimen if you are older than 40 years, or if with the following conditions:
Skin disease or sunburn
Alcohol or drug use
Lack of sleep or insomnia, fever, cough or colds, diarrhea or vomiting
Douse the fire. If symptoms of heat exhaustion set in, remember to do four things: 1) elevate the legs to prevent fainting; 2) drink lots of fluids; 3) rest; and 4) cool down the body by seeking shade, fanning yourself, or staying in your car with the air conditioner on. If you do not feel better or have a clearer head after several minutes, go to the emergency room. Lastly, after a bout of heat exhaustion, you should avoid any exercise for at least seven days to let your body recuperate. With these in mind, you can sweat all you want without having to worry much about dehydration.