Surviving Yardwork in the Heat
Yardwork is an integral part of many people's lives. Properly maintaining a yard space elevates the look of your property and makes things feel more like home.
While yardwork is rewarding, it isn't always a walk in the park.
Bending over, lifting heavy objects, and transporting work tools are just a few of the ways you physically exert yourself when performing yardwork. When heat enters the equation—yardwork becomes even more difficult. It's a given that people who perform yardwork will encounter heat as prime yardworking months exist within Spring and Summer.
If you want to overcome the heat when performing yardwork, you're going to have to:
- Recognize the risks of yardwork in the heat
- Understand symptoms and treatments for heat-related illnesses
- Implement strategies that help you manage the risks of yardwork in the heat
Risks for Yardwork in the Heat
Heat-related illnesses are the main risks associated with working in the yard during warm weather.
Here's a list of the three most common heat-related illnesses from least dangerous to most deadly:
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
While heat cramps are the least deadly heat-related illness, it's nothing to ignore.
Heat Cramps During Yardwork
Muscle spasms during heat cramps tend to be more painful than common cramps you might experience at times, such as the night.[i]
Common muscle groups affected by heat cramps include:
Keep in mind that heat cramps can affect other muscle groups in addition to the ones listed above. It's important to know that heat cramps don't always occur in the middle of physical activities such as yardwork. Heat cramps can begin a few hours after physical activity.[ii]
Besides working in a warm environment, you're most at risk for developing heat cramps after producing large amounts of sweat and only drinking liquids such as water that lack salts.
The Science Behind Heat Cramps
Root causes of heat cramps remain somewhat murky in the science field, but experts have a hunch that they're created due to an imbalance of electrolytes.[iii]
You might be wondering how this is the case.
Minerals are related to muscle reactions. Electrolytes contain several minerals that need to be balanced for a person to avoid conditions such as heat cramps.
Valuable minerals consist of:
The elderly and children under five are at the highest risk for experiencing heat cramps due to their bodies' lowered ability to maintain internal temperature balance in the face of heat stress.
How to Treat Heat Cramps During Yardwork
Treatment for heat cramps can usually be done without the help of medical professionals.
The first two actions you should take when treating heat cramps is stopping any physical activity and moving yourself to an area with a cooler temperature. After you've resituated yourself, start consuming hydrating fluids such as water and stretch the specific muscle groups that are cramping up.
People with heat cramps sometimes experience vomiting as a side effect. If you vomit during heat cramps, it's essential to keep up your water intake to make up for the loss of fluids that occur during vomiting.
Over the counter painkillers, including Advil, are an easy and accessible way to end your treatment of muscle cramps.
If muscle cramps aren't treated promptly, they can progress to heat exhaustion.
Heat Exhaustion During Yardwork
Similar to heat cramps, heat exhaustion can occur suddenly or develop over time.
Have you ever been performing yardwork and felt dizzy, fatigued, or nauseous? These are just a few of the heat exhaustion symptoms that can creep up during Yardwork.
Other symptoms can include:
- Profuse amounts of sweat
- Weak or rapid pulse
People over 65 and children under the age of 5 are the demographics most at risk for developing heat exhaustion during yardwork as their bodies aren't as equipped to handle heat stress.
When you begin to recognize and experience any of the signs of heat exhaustion during yard work, halt the activity immediately, and get to a cool space to hydrate. Consuming hydrating fluids before you go out for yard work is a great way to stay one step ahead of the curve but maintaining hydration throughout the day is just as important.
Below is a quick list of dehydrating fluids to avoid when recovering from heat exhaustion:
Time is of the essence when treating heat exhaustion as the next, and final heat-related illness you'll encounter is heat stroke—a potentially deadly condition.
People are considered to be in a heat stroke state when their body temperature reaches the 104-degree Fahrenheit mark.[iv] To give you a comparison, the average body temperature hovers around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention. If a person suffering from a heat stroke isn't treated within 30 minutes, damage to vital internal organs such as the brain occurs, which can shortly lead to death.
Here are the critical heatstroke symptoms to watch out for:[v]
- Altered mental state (confusion, seizures, coma)
- Lower amounts of sweat than heat exhaustion
- Pale skin
- Rapid breathing
- Accelerated heart rate
Treatment for heatstroke is similar to treatment methods for heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Move the person into a cool area, hydrate them with liquids such as water, remove unnecessary clothing, and apply cold packs or towels.
Not taking the time to acclimate to warm weather yardwork properly can increase your risk of developing any of the discussed heat-related illnesses. One strategy you can utilize to adapt to yardwork in warm climates is gradually increasing your workload over one week.
Once you look at the forecast and see a heatwave is ahead, plan ongoing 25% at the start of the week, 50% in the middle, and 75% at the end. Next week, your body will have an easier time responding to possibilities, such as a high heat index.
Let's end on some final tips for surviving yardwork in the heat.
Final Tips for Warm Weather Yardwork
Some people might view hydrating as a bothersome task that involves stopping work, going inside, and taking extended periods away from their duties.
While it is essential to schedule longer breaks throughout your yardwork, carrying a reusable water bottle is a great way to make hydrating a quick and easy task.[vi] We understand that going inside for breaks can take time away from work, so getting creative and setting up an outdoor shaded area with chairs, an umbrella, and a portable fan is a solid strategy.
Along with dehydration, the direct impact of sun rays can be plain uncomfortable during warm weather. Reduce the strain of sun exposure through sunglasses, sweatproof sunscreen, sunglasses, and sunhats.
If you don't have cold accessories such as ice packs to increase your comfort levels, try pouring some cold water on areas such as your neck.
How you hydrate directly impacts your ability to manage yardwork in warm environments. When you're working in the yard growing flowers, cutting the grass, or performing other essential tasks, you're going to want to receive quick and easy hydration for a fast recovery.
How Hydrant Fuels a Fast Recovery
Hydrant is a hydration mix with an optimal blend of electrolytes that help prevent all of the heat-related illnesses we've discussed.[vii]
We created our Rapid Hydration Mix formula in six flavors, while our caffeinated version of Hydrant consists of three other flavors (plus L-theanine) for a more enjoyable drink than water.[viii] If you're having trouble committing to one flavor of Hydrant, consider selecting the variety offering to find the right flavor.