Published 6/1/2023

Time to Play It Cool – Tips to Protect Yourself from Extreme Heat

Orthopaedic surgeons offer strategies on how to help prevent injury and heat exhaustion

ROSEMONT, Ill. (June 1, 2023)—As summer temperatures climb, heat illnesses become a more serious risk, particularly for young children, older adults, outdoor workers, athletes and people with chronic conditions. It is important to understand the impact of prolonged periods of high heat and humidity on your body. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages people of all ages to stay cool this summer by taking proper precautions to preventing heat illness.

“No matter your age, it is critical to be able to recognize the signs of heat-related illness,” said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Jocelyn Ross Wittstein, MD, FAAOS. “When we exercise, our bodies cool off by sweating. We become dehydrated if we do not replace the fluids that we lose through perspiration. Dehydration makes it difficult to sweat and cool down and can result in a heat injury ranging from mild cramps to a more life-threatening heat stroke.”

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Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Prevention begins with understanding the causes of heat illness and making sure to stay cool and hydrated during hot weather and rising temperatures. In addition, knowing the signs of heat injury and being able to treat it immediately will reduce the number of severe cases.

Causes of Heat-Related Illness
During regular exercise, 70 to 90% of the energy our bodies produce is released by heat. Many factors can hinder heat release and perspiration.

  • Read more about factors that can contribute to heat-related illness such as the environment, clothing and dehydration here.

Tips to Reduce Risk for Heat Injury
According to Dr. Wittstein, there are many ways to reduce your risk for heat injury. Consider the following:

  • Consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise activity if you have a health condition, like heart or lung disease, or take medication that could cause dehydration. 
  • Increase the intensity and duration of your exercise program gradually. If you participate in sports that require protective equipment, avoid wearing it at the start of training.
  • Make sure you are well hydrated before, during and after exercise. Replace your fluids, whether you feel thirsty or not. A general recommendation is to drink 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid 2 hours before exercise. Drinking an additional 8 ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise is also helpful. While you are exercising, break for 8 oz. of water every 20 minutes.
  • Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing.
  • Protect against sun exposure with sunscreen.
  • Routinely monitor changing weather conditions including temperature and humidity.

For more information about heat injury causes, symptoms and treatments, visit

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About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level to best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal health care issues; and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.

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Contact AAOS Media Relations 

Deanna Killackey 


Lauren Riley