Environmental Concerns

PA State Standards/Objectives/Essential Questions

10.5.12.A: Apply knowledge of movement skills, skill-related fitness and movement concepts to identify and evaluate physical activities that promote personal lifelong participation.

Students will explain how environmental conditions can influence their safety during fitness.

Students will describe the relationship among fluid balance, physical activity, and loss of water and salt.

Students will be plan a program of physical activity to reduce environmental risks.

Name precautions you should consider taking before, during, and after exercising.


fluid balance
heat cramps
heat exhaustion
heat-stress index
wind-chill factor

Environmental Conditions and Physical Activity

It is important to understand the dangers of being physically active in very hot or very cold weather. Climate is a potential risk factor in personal health and fitness. As long as you use common sense and follow a few simple rules, most activities can be carried out safely.

During physical activity in extreme heat you perspire so heavily that it can affect your fluid balance, which is the body's ability to balance the amounts of fluid taken in with the amount lost through perspiration and excretion. You may also experience dehydration, which is fluid loss.

Heat-Related Injuries

Heat Cramps- muscle spasms resulting from the loss of large amount of sale and water through perspiration. These can be minimized by drinking plenty of fluids before and during physical activity.

Heat Exhaustion- is overheating of the body resulting in cold, clammy skin, and symptoms of shock. Symptoms include the following: weakness, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, drop in body weight, and also heavy sweating.

Heatstroke- is  a condition in which the body can no longer rid itself of heat through perspiration. You temperature begins to raise, as well has your pulse. You will sometimes then loose consciousness.

How to Avoid Heat-Related Injury

Acclimatization is achieved after five to ten days of light workouts in the heat. It is the process of allowing your body to adapt slowly to weather conditions.

To prevent dehydration, you need to rehydrate by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after physical activity. You need to make sure you are restoring the loss of water.

Before: Consume between 1½ and 2½ cups of cool water or sports drink 10 to 20 minutes before exercising in the heat.

During: Attempt to match fluid loss with fluid intake, approximately 1½ cups to 3¼ cups of water per hour.

After: Drink 2 cups of water or sports drink for every pound lost. It may take up to 12 hours to achieve complete fluid replacement after strenuous exercise in the heat.

Make sure to start to begin to set limits. In order to do this you need to learn to use the heat-stress index, which is a scientific measure of the combined effects of heat and humidity on the body.  Take a look at the chart. Observe what temperatures put you at a high risk of injury. In general, try to exercise during the cooler parts of the day.

You also should be choosing clothing for sports or activities in the heat. You should be focusing on lightweight materials-cotton fabric. Hats as well as sunscreen should be used.

**What would the heat-stress index be if it were 90 degrees and humidity were 70%?**

Physical Activity in Extreme Cold

When you are physically active or exercise for extended periods of time in cold weather, you are at risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia, is a condition in which your body temperature drops below normal. This can also result from long exposure in windy or rainy weather. A person who experiences this might act disoriented and lose motor control. You want to seek medical help right away.

Frostbite, is the tissue damage from freezing. Occurs most often on your head, face, feet,and hands. If you begin losing feeling in any body part, you want to head inside and warm up.

Avoid spending extended periods outdoors when the wind-chill factor is below -22 degrees. This is when the combined influence of wind and temperature on the body.  When you do go outside, make sure you are wearing warm, loose-fitting clothing in layers. You want to protect your extremities, including hands, feet, head, and ears. Those are all areas in which your body heat is lost.

Take a look below... If it were 15 degrees and the wind was blowing at 25 mph, what would the wind-chill factor be?

Other Outdoor Environmental Conditions

Other potential environmental factors that pose a risk are:

Air pollution
Unleashed dogs