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Extreme heat myths: how to eat, drink, work out and wine when the mercury spikes

07/16/2013 06:41 EDT | Updated 09/15/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - You're hot, you're sweaty, you're cranky, you're tired. Can you blame it on the heat wave? The Canadian Press spoke to Dr. Michael Finkelstein, Toronto's associate medical officer, in order to debunk common myths and perceptions on how to beat the heat while eating, exercising, drinking — and whining.

Can it really get hot enough to fry an egg?

Yes, although not on every surface. If you really want your egg well done, choose a hot surface, like the roof of a car. But the real question is: Would you actually want to eat that egg?

Do hot days actually make me more tired?

Yes. For one, during extremely hot periods, the air doesn't cool down as much during the night. If you don't have air conditioning, this probably means you didn't get a great night's sleep. Further, when it's hot — and especially when it's humid — your body is working harder to maintain your internal body temperature, and that takes energy. However, if you're really tired, nauseous or dizzy, you may have heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and you should call 911.

If I have heat exhaustion, is it a good idea to get into a cold shower or pool right away?

Not exactly. If you have heat exhaustion, you may not be conscious, and therefore not able to put yourself into a pool. If you are conscious, call an ambulance. In the meantime, or if you are getting exhausted, you need to lower your body temperature. You can do this by putting yourself into a cool, but not freezing cold, shower or pool, and then drinking lots of water.

Will a big meal on a hot day make me more exhausted?

Probably. Your body is already working hard to maintain your body temperature, so digesting a big meal will just put more stress on it. That said, it depends on whether you've been sitting by a pool all day or have been swimming laps. Pick smaller, lighter and more frequent meals instead.

Is it unsafe to exercise outside on a hot day?

Not always. If you're a Kenyan marathon runner — or just extremely fit — you'll likely manage. But it probably won't be much fun. If you've picked days with 40 C temperatures to launch an ambitious workout plan, you should wait until the sun goes down and the temperature drops, or else you could get very dehydrated very quickly. Or, better yet, just start another day.But if I do go for a run, will I burn more calories?Probably. If you do the same workout you always do on a much hotter day, you will probably burn a few more calories. But at the same time, if you're doing a hard workout on a hot day, you may not be able to handle it as well as you normally would. Exercise caution to avoid passing out on the pavement.

Are sports drinks better for hydrating than water?Sometimes. If you're an athlete and are exercising heavily, a sports drink can be helpful to replace calories and electrolytes. For anyone else, lots of water is your best bet.

What about a beer instead?

Nope. Like the caffeine in those iced lattes, alcohol can dehydrate you and is best avoided on hot days. Go sit on a shaded patio and drink lemon water instead.

But I'm going to drink anyway.

If you are drinking, a beer is better than a mixed drink or a shot of tequila. People tend to drink beer slower and over longer stretches of time, and there is some water in beer. Pair your pints with lots of water and go slow. Avoid going overboard — not only because you could become dehydrated, but also, it's just good advice in general.

Are people from Canada worse at coping with the heat than people from hot countries?Probably, but only for the first weeks of summer. Your body does adapt to hot weather — your blood vessels, sweat levels, and skin all change slightly — and this takes a little time when you're used to cooler weather. Unfortunately, by July your body has usually adjusted as well as it can, and any complaining about your "Canadian heat sensitivity" is null.

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