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Sarkozy's Cautionary Tale

We still don't know exactly why French President Nicolas Sarkozy fell ill during his jog the other day: Reports say he grew faint, had to lie down and was then taken to the hospital, where he was kept overnight for observation before being released. He's reportedly fine now, with no cardiovascular problems.

But the incident is a good reminder to be careful exercising in hot weather.

Nicolas Sarkozy leaves the hospital where he spent the night after collapsing while jogging. (AP)

I talked to Pamela Peeke, a Bethesda-based fitness guru and author of Fit to Live, about the potential hazards of hot-weather physical exertion.

The temperature when Sarkozy was jogging was reportedly about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. "That's not what he's actually feeling," said Peeke, noting that running makes the body feel as though the ambient temperature's about 10 degrees higher than it is. "He could have been experiencing early heat stroke," she said.

Running in the heat could have dehydrated Sarkozy, too. "Did he hydrate properly before going running? Did he have a water bottle to drink from?" We don't know. But getting dehydrated "will definitely nail you," Peeke said.

It's also been reported that Sarkozy's been on a strict weight-loss diet and exercise regimen, and that he'd recently lost close to 10 pounds. Peeke says rapid weight loss can deplete the body of the glucose and fat the body needs to fuel activities such as running. An average man burns about 120-150 calories per mile when running, she said. Sarkozy's collapse "could have been partially due to lack of fuel," she suggests.

So if you choose to exercise in the D.C.-area heat and humidity, more power to you. But be careful to stay fueled and hydrated, and know when to quit if you get too hot. Otherwise, you might find yourself pulling a Sarkozy.

Share your own cautionary tales: Have you run into trouble exercising in the heat? Or do you choose to take your workout indoors during the dog days of summer?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  July 29, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness  
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I try to avoid running in the hottest part of the day and back off the pace or shorten my run if I'm feeling it. Drink, drink and then drink more, before and after. Don't rely on your thirst if you're feeling thirsty you're already dehydrated. Here are some tips:

Posted by: CPBonWRT | July 29, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

It might of been faked to get attention. They are politicians. The press might be getting duped. God knows they've been easily duped before. Watch Obama will be feeling bad playing B ball next. We'll be told to pray and a reform bill will be pending so we can be like French socialists or Cubans. Have a stiff drink honey.

Posted by: Dermitt | July 29, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

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