Fitness

9 Ways to Get a Great Workout at Home

"You're not tired! You're not tired!" says Chalene Johnson, as she starts another set of high-intensity exercises. She's tiny, blonde, and has the body I want to have. I am tired, but I follow her lead–a breakthrough since I'm watching her fitness DVD, an advanced cardio program called TurboFire, and there's no one in the room forcing me to do so.

Why is this a big deal? Because I'm lazy–really. When I go to the gym, I can think of a 101 things I'd rather be doing, even as I jog on the treadmill. Outdoor exercise is also out; too hard on my asthma.

You'd think I'd be the last person to do video workouts at home (no witnesses to my sloth!), but I've been able to stick with it for the past two years. Now, I'm stronger, I have more energy, and my endurance has improved. I even feel more confident when I pull on my skinny jeans.

Here are my tips for keeping yourself motivated during your at-home workouts.

Find a workout that fits your life 
Guess what? I used to think I hated workout videos. The truth was I had not found the right one for me. There are hundreds of DVD workouts, and some of them are too hard. Or too easy. (Or too boring.) So Goldilocks, take the time to find the one that's juuuussst right. Amazon.com has hundreds of user reviews for you to read and consider, even if you don't want to buy. Start by searching for well-known trainers like Jillian Michaels, Tracy Anderson, Chalene Johnson and Tony Horton. Then, hop onto Youtube to find a sample video. Some are short, but there are many high-quality videos that are 40 minutes to an hour long. Take the time to watch them to see if you can do the moves. Even if you're superfit, why not have a celebrity trainer you'd never have access to in real life?

Stock up on DVDs
Variety is the key to never getting bored. If you choose a popular program, you can save money by going online before buying from a store. If you get lucky like me, you might be able to pick up Tony Horton's P90X or TurboFire on Craigslist.org or Ebay.com for $40-$50, or half off the retail price. And just so you know, this is a good time to do it, since people are doing their spring-cleaning and getting rid of their dusty fitness gear.

Personally, I like to keep more than one video around, so I can switch things up and never get bored. I currently own three, and one of them is a dated version of Debbie Siebers' Slim in 6. Even though it's old, I use it because it has a good track record, the trainer is likable and the music is pumping. After all, the whole point of this exercise is to get fit, get limber and to get moving.

If you're budget-conscious, get yourself to the local library. Mixed in among old Hollywood blockbusters, there could be some pilates or cardio-based workout DVDs that someone has donated. You can also try using Freecycle.org. It's a nationwide service that people use to connect with others who are looking to give away their stuff for free.

Schedule your workouts
Open up your planner and schedule your workouts, following your trainer's calendar as closely as possible. BLOCK THOSE TIMES OFF! Rest days should overlap with special events or visits from out-of-town guests. And before you leave for any weekend trips, load your fitness programs on your laptop or iPad so that you can work out wherever you go. Think ahead, because when you're standing in front of a screen in your gym clothes, there should be no distractions. Johnson recommends working out six times a week, but I'd be happy if I could manage to do four. I've learned to be realistic, and this is a number I can stick to doing.

Reward yourself for working out 
Still feel like you're too busy to work out? Try this mental trick. Make a list of things that eat up all of your free time. It could be Facebook and Twitter, or the TV shows you watch. Then, circle three or four of your least favorite activities, and swap them out in favor of exercise. For example, I can make a conscious decision not to watch an episode of "New Girl" every week. And just like that, I'm able to squeeze an extra 30 minutes out of my day.

I also like to use a rewards system. Since food-related ideas are out, I've been forced to get creative. I've made trips to the museum and to Broadway shows. I've taken self-defense classes and signed up for bouldering at a local rock-climbing gym.

Create the perfect space 
When I first started using fitness videos, I did it in my living room. It was so crowded that I had to push my coffee table and sofas aside so I could have enough space to do lunges, jump squats and sun salutations. I've learned that I'd rather have a trimmer, fitter body than a perfect living room. My commitment to exercise is not something that needs to be rolled up and hidden away all the time.

This is something you might need to consider. I've recently moved all of my operations to the basement after discovering that I'm wearing a hole in my living room carpet. If you plan on doing a long-term program, it's probably a good idea to find ways to save your flooring from wear and tear. You can rotate your rug every few months, or invest in foam exercise tiles to spare your hardwood floors.

Here's a pro tip. "To motivate yourself to enter and remain in your exercise environment, make it pleasant and inviting," says sports psychologist Mark H. Anshel, PhD. I'm taking his advice by painting the walls in a pretty, energizing color like peach. It should do wonders for my mood when I exercise.

Change your diet too
Some of the more advanced DVD programs offer menus and an eating plan, and I am happy to take advantage of the free advice. I love that I don't have to decide what to eat since it's all mapped out for me. For example, both P90X and TurboFire offer three meals and two snacks a day, and multiple options for each. With TurboFire, I get 50 pages of recipes, all based on a 1,500-calorie plan. There are weight loss tips, such as how to track your calories, understand food labels and break a weight loss plateau. And P90X has more than one nutrition plan. I can choose whether it's more important to me to shred fat and build muscle, boost my energy or maximize my endurance.

Get the right gear
To find out what equipment you need, you'll want to skim through the user manual that comes with most DVD programs, or watch the first five minutes of the video. Amazon reviews are especially useful, because you can find information on what equipment is necessary, what's optional, and where you might get items on the cheap.

My current setup consists of a yoga mat and blocks that I purchased from Lululemon, and a pair of Powerblock dumbbells that I got for half off the retail price on Craigslist. I also ordered a set of resistance bands from Amazon. They can be used to replace small hand weights and don't take up much room. And since I do dance-based exercise routines, I have a pair of jazz shoes to help me slide and twist.

Altogether, I've spent about $300 on equipment. It's steep, but still cheaper than paying for a gym membership every year.

Dress to sweat! 
It's tempting to start working out in whatever you happen to be wearing, such as pajamas and bare feet. But if there's one thing I've learned about using exercise DVD's, it's that it's always best to get dressed as if I'm going to the gym.

Wearing sneakers actually makes it easier to do jumping jacks, lunges and leg lifts. Since they cushion my feet and give me a better grip on the floor, I'll last longer and do more reps, giving me a better shot at actually finishing my routine. Equally important is a good sports bra, to prevent bounce when you start jumping around. And if you do yoga, I recommend wearing a top that doesn't gape open when you do the down dog.

Still not convinced? Dr. Anshel says that workout clothes "reflect your commitment to perform at optimal levels and have motivational value." This means it's a lot easier to jump in and do your exercises if you change as soon as you get home from work.

Here's another lazy-girl trick. If you're an early-morning exerciser, you can wear your gym clothes to sleep. The next day, you can pop out of bed, scrunch your hair into a ponytail, and hit the "Play" button on your DVD player.

Practice patience
It can be frustrating to have to learn a new series of moves, especially if it's a dance or aerobics routine. But in real life, you can't ask your fitness instructor to stop the class and show you those moves just one more time. The beauty of using fitness videos is that you can stop and rewind as many times you need.

When I get frustrated, I like to take a deep breath and concentrate on getting the steps down. Most of the time, I'll discover there are only a few moves that are repeated several times. And if that isn't the case, I can choose whether to persist or downgrade to an easier video. That's always an option so don't give up!

 

5 Best Sites to Stream Workouts

You're too busy for the gym but long for something more exciting than that same old fitness DVD you've been sweating to for months. If only you could take a rocking class right where you are. The tech gods are on it! With just a Wi-Fi connection, a laptop (or tablet or smart TV) and a toning tool or two, you can now plug into cutting-edge workouts—for a small fee, of course. We exercised our way through a dozen streaming sites and narrowed them down to our five favorites. Your fitness plan B just got better.

RELATED: 25 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Physique 57
Cost: $57 a month or $5 to $10 per class; physique57.com

Best for: Fans of barre and Pilates mat classes.

What it is: Each of the 15 workouts—there's even one with Health's cover girl Erin Andrews!—mimics a traditional barre class, using micro movements to sculpt and lengthen muscles. While in-studio classes at this boutique chain can cost up to $36 a pop, you can rent content for 48 hours for a fraction of that price. (If you pay for the month, you have unlimited access for 31 days.)

Why we love it: Peppy instructors and fast-paced workouts hold your attention. "I was pushing myself the way I do in a traditional gym class but didn't feel the usual worry about how I looked," a reviewer of the Thigh and Seat Booster and Arm and Ab Booster workouts noted. Bonus: You don't need a lot of space or equipment—typically dumbbells, an exercise ball and a chair.

Keep in mind: Instructors run through moves quickly, so if you're a barre newbie, you may find yourself hitting rewind a lot.

Crunch live
Cost: $10 a month; crunchlive.com

Best for: Gym diehards who like to try new classes.

What it is: Joining this site—which features 33 of the chain's most popular workouts—is basically like having a Crunch membership, but without the crowds. Choose between standard 30-minute sessions or quickie 15-minute ones, all taught by some of Crunch's elite instructors (think Michelle Opperman and Marc Santa Maria). What's more, you can search by category, teacher, duration or class name, as well as place videos into a "favorites" section, making it a snap to find your top-rated toning sessions.

Why we love it: While there's no substitute for being in an actual class, our reviewers thought this service came close. "I really enjoyed the Ab Attack class," one tester said. "It incorporated yoga poses and stretching in the last quarter, which was a nice addition and different from other ab workouts I've done." Thrill seekers will like that the flat monthly fee encourages experimentation.

RELATED: 24 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises

Keep in mind: Your regular Crunch gym membership doesn't include these streaming classes. Free trials are available.

Udaya Yoga
Cost: $12 a month or $5 per class; udaya.com

Best for: Yoga enthusiasts who want to go deep into poses or just get a quick fix.

What it is: Subscribers to this strictly yoga site not only have access to an online video library but also get to try five new yoga classes a week. The sessions—in a variety of levels—range in focus from body-part-specific moves (such as quad openers) to skills (like perfecting Wheel pose) to traditional sequences. Search by class length, difficulty, challenges or style to find the right flow for you.

Why we love it: The step-by-step tutorials make it simple to follow along. "Even if you aren't looking at your computer, you know what's going on and can keep up," one tester raved. The breathtaking scenery of the outdoor classes adds an extra dose of calm. Om yeah!

RELATED: Which Type of Yoga Is Best for You?

Keep in mind: Some of the workouts are pretty tough. Our testers appreciated that the yogis suggest other sessions to help master the basic poses. Free trials are available.

AKT inMotion
Cost: $8 per class; aktinmotion.com

Best for: Dance lovers who want a 360-degree workout.

What it is: Wish you could take a class with a celebrity trainer? Here's your chance. AKT inMotion streaming workouts are the brainchild of Anna Kaiser, trainer to A-listers like Kelly Ripa and Shakira. Each 10-minute video serves up Kaiser's signature mix of cardio, strength training and stretching; you get targeted workouts (upper and lower body and core) as well as dance steps to boost your heart rate.

Why we love it: "At first I thought, 10 minutes? That's nothing. But I was really sweating a few minutes into it," said a tester of the Upper Body Workout, who admitted she was grateful for the on-screen countdown clock. Added our Dance Cardio Workout guinea pig: "Anna's energy was contagious—I did this workout first thing in the morning and felt completely revved up."

Keep in mind: Have a range of weights on hand because these intense moves will fatigue your limbs quickly. "I grabbed only 5- and 8-pound weights," said one reviewer, "but then there were a lot of pulsing movements and I had to go running for 3-pounders."

DailyBurn
Cost: $10 a month; dailyburn.com

Best for: Anyone looking for comprehensive training plans (it offers 14) as opposed to one-off classes.

What it is: After you answer a few questions (height, weight, activity level, what type of workouts you like), DailyBurn—a video-content partner of Health.com—will suggest plans that run the gamut from dance to kettlebells  . For each program, you find out the trainer and the length of an individual session, as well as what the overall series is and who the workout is best for.

Why we love it: The selection is incredibly diverse, and the workouts deliver results. "It's often hard to find online classes that are tough but not ridiculous," said a reviewer of Power, Intervals and Metcon1. "These are at just the right level, where I feel challenged but not so much that I can't do the workout." Another plus: the Inferno HR series. It's HIIT-style and allows you to track your heart rate on screen in real time, as long as you have a heart rate monitor and download the app to your phone or tablet.

Keep in mind: The hard-core workouts come chock-full of plyometric moves—like jumping lunges. If you have bad knees, you may want to steer clear. You can try it free for 30 days.

 

 

 

This Gym Is Under Fire for Sending Its Members a Horrifying Body-Shaming Email

Twitter is currently roasting Anytime Fitness for a promotional email the gym sent to its members, Yahoo Lifestyle reports.

The email, which was sent from the gym's Manchester, Connecticut location, encouraged members to "be comfortable in your skin." The message, however, had the opposite effect on recipients—namely, former gym member Mora Reinka.

Reinka, who hasn't gone to Anytime Fitness in two years, shared a photo of the email to her Twitter, saying how "horrified" she felt by its message. "I just don't even know where to begin," she wrote. And quite frankly, it's easy to see why.

RELATED: This Man’s Breakup Letter to Planet Fitness Is Our New Favorite Way to Cancel a Membership

The email starts innocently enough, painting a picture of the "warm days ahead."

"Shorts, bathing suits, flip flops. The smell of suntan lotion. And LOTS of pictures of you that will be posted online forever," begins the message. Then it takes an unexpectedly dark turn. "[That means] LOTS of sucking in, side turns, skinny arm posts and god forbid, a side pic while sitting down."

It doesn't end there. The email then urges members to "take your hand, and grab the excess you have on your waist (front/back/sides.)"

RELATED: What Exactly Is the Mirror Workout—and Can It Help You Lose Weight?

"Can you pinch it? Or can you grab it?" the email continues. "Well, I want to call it what it is…FAT." (Find out why America hates fat women.)

Reinka's photo of the email quickly went viral. Now, people across the board are sharing how this kind of messaging is both disappointing and dangerous.

"Oh. My. It's like an eating disorder sent out an email," wrote one Twitter user.

A UK-based mental health awareness platform, Mental Health TV, tweeted: "This is very disappointing to see. Gyms need to have better awareness of eating disorders and other mental health issues relating to body image. This is not appropriate to send to anybody."

RELATED:  Meghan Markle Has the Most Zen Fitness Routine

Another user shared her own "horrible" experience at an Anytime Fitness gym: "I quit their gym a few months ago and one time I was in the gym for 30 mins and when I left one of the fitness instructors said to me, 'Where are you going? You've only been here for 20 minutes,'" she wrote.

Following the backlash, Anytime Fitness' national media director, Mark Daly came forward with an official apology.

"That is not the sort of message that Anytime Fitness supports or encourages," he said in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. "In fact, it is the exact opposite of how we coach Anytime Fitness franchisees to communicate with potential members. We pride ourselves on being supportive and encouraging—never shaming."

Daly added that he has since spoken with the franchise owner of the Connecticut gym to express his disappointment. "He apologized…and promised not to send similar messages to anyone," said Daly. "We will be re-training the owner of the gym to be supportive and encouraging in his messaging and his actions."

RELATED: This 30-Day Arms Challenge Will Transform Your Upper Body In Just 4 Weeks

The man who sent the message, Shawn Pyron, apparently thought the message was funny. However, he told Yahoo Lifestyle that he now realizes body shaming is not a joke.

"I'm very sorry about the promotional message that I sent to Ms. Reinka and other former members of our gym," he wrote in a statement. "It was poor attempt at using humor as a motivation for people to lead healthy lifestyles. I realize now that the message was not funny and that it offended many people. I'm truly sorry. I've learned from all of this and I will not repeat the mistake."

We've said it before, and unfortunately, we'll have to say it again: Body shaming is not the way to get people to achieve their weight loss goals. In fact, telling someone to focus on their "flaws" and inadequacies often has the opposite effect on their overall health.

Thankfully, body-positivity and self-love movements have gained incredible traction in recent years. But incidents like this prove there is still a lot of work to be done.

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This article originally appeared on Shape.com

These ’10-Year Challenge’ Fitness Transformations Prove Everyone Starts Somewhere

If you love a transformation, then you hit the motherlode over the past few days. Thanks to the viral "10-year challenge" (sometimes referred to as the "How hard did aging hit you?" challenge-harsh), everyone's posting a 2019 photo alongside one from 10 years ago to their social media. Some are funny (Amy Schumer), some are inspirational (Sophia Amoruso), and some suggest it's possible to just opt out of aging. (Reese Witherspoon, just how?)

We're partial to health and fitness transformations, and the challenge has sparked many, accompanied by reflections that go far deeper than weight loss or muscle tone. Here are some dramatic before-and-afters that you need to see.

RELATED: 9 Body Positive 10-Year Challenge Posts That Will Leave You Feeling Inspired

Transformations aren't just about weight loss.

Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness looks way different from her 2009 self, but the changes go beyond the physical, she explained. "What a difference 10 years can make," she wrote in her caption. "Needless to say a lot has changed, but the most important change for me… my confidence. And that's about a lot more than just the weight loss. It's growth. It's learning to love yourself inside and out from the start, not when you reach a goal."

RELATED: Here’s How Instagram Fitness Star Katie Dunlop Finally Quit Yo-Yo Dieting—and Totally Transformed Her Body

It's never too late to start.

In her transformation photo, trainer Natalie Jill pointed out that she's "not just another 'fitness girl'" in that she didn't take up fitness until the age of 39, which is considered late according to society's standards. In her earlier photo, she was "a divorced single mom, broke, overweight," who had come on some hard times, but in the second she's smiling from the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers

RELATED: Natalie Jill's 7-Minute Bodyweight Workout for Core, Glutes, & Arms

Fitness journeys aren't linear.

Trainer Brittne Babe posted two photos 10 years apart, noting that working toward a fitness goal is a learning experience. "My journey is continuous and went from weight loss, to weight gain, to less muscle, to now more muscle mass," she explained. "I began genetically thin and throughout my teenage years, my diet was horrible, which led to unhealthy habits and poor dieting. Once I identified who I no longer wanted to be, my health and fitness journey began." Now, she's starting to understand her body more, but still has ups and downs, she explained.

It takes work.

As easy as it might look on Instagram, trainers aren't born super-fit humans. "When people see me now, they have the misconception that I've always been this fit; assuming that I am gifted with some miraculous genetic predisposition," trainer Adrianne Nina wrote in a post. "The image on the left is a young version of myself that was not health conscious and wasn't aware of any reasoning to be. At that time, I had no vision of becoming who I am today. It was 7 years ago when I decided to make my health and fitness a priority. The contrast between the two is evidence of my ongoing efforts to be the best version of myself."

You might look back and laugh.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, a complete badass who's won the CrossFit games, pointed out that she started doing CrossFit with room for improvement. She poked fun at herself with hashtags like #rockingrunningshoestolift and #usedmostlymyfacemuscletolift. "It's okay to look ugly, it's okay to fail, it's okay to get frustrated and it's okay to feel lonely…" she wrote, "it's just not okay to give up!! And also never take yourself too seriously that you can't look back and have a good laugh at your younger overachiever and oh so serious and intense self."

RELATED: CrossFit's Camille Leblanc-Bazinet: 'I'm Glad I Don't Have a Thigh Gap' 

Love yourself at every step.

Anna Victoria of Fit Body shared her 10-year journey before the challenge was even a thing, so she came back with an 11-year transformation. Victoria explained that she adopted a more balanced lifestyle over the years, going from eating only fast food to the 80/20 eating style, avoiding the gym to working out, and from partying to enjoying wine occasionally. She also pointed out that shooting for fitness goals and being body positive aren't mutually exclusive. "No matter how much I did or didn't weigh, I never let it faze me and question my worth," she wrote.

RELATED: There's Only a 5-Pound Difference In These Two Photos of Fitness Influencer Anna Victoria From 11 Years Apart

Fitness can transform your mental health.

Massy Arias (@mankofit) credits exercise for helping her overcome a period when she was so depressed she would lock herself indoors. (And later helping her through postpartum depression.) She touched on that journey in a 10-year challenge photo. "I started working out and eating healthy as a way to cope with depression, lack of self-confidence and purpose in life," she wrote. "It became my passion and my medicine. Today my passion has become my career."

RELATED: Massy Arias Says Postpartum Depression Led Her to Lose All Connection With Her Body

You might feel completely changed.

Fitness model and bodybuilder Michelle Lewin posted an old bikini photo alongside one with "more boobies, more waist, and so much more wisdom." Lewin has become one of the biggest fitness influencers in the world, but she says she lost a beauty competition 10 years ago because she "was the fullest girl," she wrote.

RELATED: Fitness Model Michelle Lewin Attacked and Bitten by Wild Pigs in Bahamas

Don't assume you're not the "type" who exercises.

Within the last 10 years, Melissa Alcantara realized that assuming you're not the "type" to try a certain workout will just keep holding you back. "23-year-old me learned a lesson or two (hundred) in these last 10 years," she wrote. "The most important lesson of all was to never say 'I'm not the type of person who' what a crock lol." Alcantara is the ultimate reminder that everyone starts somewhere. She got into weight training by learning from YouTube videos and now trains Kim Kardashian.

RELATED: Kim Kardashian's Trainer Shares 6 Moves That Will Transform Your Legs and Butt

Self-image transformations can be just as dramatic.

10 years ago Julianne Hough was super fit-she was a pro on Dancing with the Stars after all-but her mentality has transformed. In the older photo, she sported "bleach blonde hair, fake tan, all the makeup, sequins galore." Now, she's less attached to trying to fit a mold. (She realized that no matter what you look like, you'll never impress everyone…and do you really even want to?) "The past 10 years have been all about removing the idea of who I thought I was supposed to be, and uncovering the essence of who I am," she wrote in her caption. "I've learned how to just be me. My natural, raw, unapologetic self."

RELATED: Julianne Hough Talks Married Life, the Morning Routine That Gives Her Energy, and Her Struggle With Endometriosis

A small goal can spiral into something huge.

Cassey Ho may have a huge following devoted to her Pilates workouts, but that wasn't always the case. Pop Pilates (the official pilates class of 24 Hour Fitness gyms developed by Ho) posted an Instagram with photos of Ho, one working out in her parents' basement "doing #POPPilates before anyone even knew what it was," and another of her leading 4,000 people through a workout. Ho previously revealed that her path to fitness wasn't completely smooth. She didn't speak with her father for a few years since he disapproved of her career choice.

RELATED: Cassey Ho Created a Timeline of "Ideal Body Types" to Illustrate the Ridiculousness of Beauty Standards

The struggle is worth it.

A decade ago Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese was just getting started in the fitness space-working with Mighty Mommies, according to her 10-year challenge post-but a lot has happened between now and then. "There was a move to another state (I lasted 5 weeks & moved back to LA with dom when he was 6 months old), there was a divorce, there were a lot of chances that didn't work out in my career, friends made, friends lost, moving to different apartments, living paycheck to paycheck, long nights and longer days," she wrote. "There was work and sacrifice. Was it worth it? Absa-frigen-lutely."

RELATED: This Diet and Workout Plan Is Supposed to Help You Hit Your Goal Weight in 80 Days—but Is It Safe?

You're already enough.

Over the span of 10 years, Heidi Kristoffer has gained weight and perspective. The creator of CrossFlowX posted photos of herself in handstands with a reflection on how she's changed. In the earlier photos, she had a strong mind and was crushing it career-wise, but was constantly told she wasn't enough, she wrote. Now, things are different, she writes on Instagram: "The woman in the other photos weighs more than she ever thought she would be okay with, and even so is willingly on camera in spandex daily. But, she is equal parts soft and strong, gets to share what she loves and be unapologetically herself every day, is the mama to three incredible tiny humans 3 and under, and understands that she is ENOUGH." (P.S. You must watch this incredible timelapse video of Kristoffer doing yoga throughout her pregnancy.)

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This article originally appeared on Shape.com

Heat Stroke Vs. Heat Exhaustion—A Doctor Explains the Difference

Your body is like a thermostat: It's constantly working to regulate your temperature, making sure you don't get too hot or too cold. It usually does a pretty good job of staying as close to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit as possible (obviously way higher than the thermostat in your home), but on particularly hot and humid days, it's possible that it could malfunction. 

When that number outside rises, your body has to work extra hard to maintain a healthy internal temperature, which can make it go a bit haywire, potentially resulting in heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat-related illnesses usually strike people who are doing physical activity outdoors, the elderly, and those on medications that increase their sensitivity to high temperatures. But you don’t have to be in a high risk category to suffer from these major summer health hazards. 

We asked a doctor to explain the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and how you can recognize the warning signs of each. 

RELATED: 13 Heat Exhaustion Symptoms to Look Out for This Summer

What is heat exhaustion? 

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body’s core temperature is less than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, but blood pressure is low and the heart isn't pumping blood as efficiently as usual, Peter Shearer, MD, emergency physician and chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Brooklyn, tells Health. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cold skin, fast but weak pulse, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, weakness, and fainting. "Your body is having a normal response to an abnormal situation," Dr. Shearer says. 

If you think you might have heat exhaustion, move to a cool place, take off as many pieces of clothing as you can, put cool wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath, and sip water. "Many people with heat exhaustion don't need to go to the hospital," Dr. Shearer says. However, if you're throwing up, your symptoms are getting worse, or your symptoms last more than an hour, get medical help. 

Heat exhaustion doesn't necessarily lead to heat stroke, but if you don't address your symptoms, it certainly could. 

RELATED: What Causes Dehydration? Here’s What You Need to Know

What is heat stroke? 

Heat stroke is a more severe form of heat illness. In fact, it’s a medical emergency. It occurs when your body temperature rises to a point (usually above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) where the central nervous system malfunctions and the body loses the ability to thermoregulate. In this case, "your body responds abnormally to an abnormal situation," Dr. Shearer says. 

Symptoms to be aware of include hot and dry skin, fast and strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and loss of consciousness. 

Anyone experiencing heat stroke should get to a hospital right away. If not treated promptly, the extreme body temperature can cause cell death, resulting in permanent organ damage. 

Dr. Shearer says the body temperature needs to be lowered as quickly as possible, so until the person gets to the hospital, they should move to a cool place, remove clothing, sit by a fan, and apply cool cloths. Doctors may treat heat stroke by immersing the patient in cold water, using cooling blankets and ice packs, and administering IV fluids to rehydrate the body.

RELATED: 12 Reasons Why Dehydration Is Bad for Your Body

How can I prevent heat illness?

First things first, be sure to drink a lot of water when doing physical activity in the heat. If you notice your urine is a dark yellow or your muscles start to cramp, you need to be drinking more fluids, Dr. Shearer says. 

You should also wear loose and lightweight clothing, apply sunscreen generously (sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself), be aware of any medications you're taking that increase your sensitivity to high temperatures, try to exercise in the morning or evening to avoid peak heat, and refrain from doing physical activity on the hottest days of summer. 

RELATED: 15 Biggest Sunscreen Mistakes