Beat the Heat

Top 7 Tips for Exercising Safely This Summer

Exercising in hot weather increases our body temperature. Sure, our bodies have built-in cooling systems that help us adjust to heat, that’s why we perspire. But this natural cooling system can fail if we’re exposed to soaring temperatures for too long. The result may be heat exhaustion – that awful fatigue that makes you feel as if one more step could be your last – and even heat stroke.

If the humidity is also way up, you’re in double trouble because your sweat “sticks” to your skin; it doesn’t evaporate as readily, which can send your body temperature even higher!

In today’s blog, we have listed 7 tips that will ensure you stay on track with your training, stay safe in the summer sun and what to do if you or someone else develops a heat related illness.

1. Drink plenty of water

Start by drinking 2 glasses (500ml) of water 2 hours before exercise. During exercise lasting 60 minutes or longer, 2-3 glasses of water (500-700ml) of cool water or sports drink is sufficient.

Beat the Heat - Adam Sandler, Water Boy

A good way to know that you’re hydrating properly is by checking the colour of your urine. If it’s pale yellow (think lemonade), you’re well hydrated. If it’s darker (heading toward the colour of apple juice), drink more.

Do be aware that some medications and supplements alter the colour of urine, so this gauge, while good for many, does not work for everyone!

2. Change it up

If you normally like running, try jogging or walking. If you’re a brisk walker, slow it down. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the pace and length of your workout. Otherwise swap outdoor activities for indoor workouts. Check out an air conditioned local gym to beat the heat rather than baking in the daytime sun. Also consider reducing the sweat factor of your workout by swapping a heavy cardio session for some resistance training.

Beat the Heat - Kath and Ken, Power Walking

 

3. Avoid the hottest part of the day

Rise early to catch the cool of the morning, or go out at sunset or later. At this time of year, that can mean you avoid training outdoors between 8am and 8pm.

Beat the Heat - Australian Open Tennis

Image credit: ABC News

4. Wear light coloured, lightweight clothing

Dark colours absorb the heat, which can make you feel like you’re wrapped in a warm blanket. Heavyweight, tight-fitting clothing will also heat you up. Keep it loose and light. More air will be able to circulate over your skin, keeping you cool!

5. Be sunsmart

Make sure you apply and reapply sunscreen especially if you are training or playing for extended periods. Also, don’t forget a hat! While sun visors or caps may look fashionable, they offer much less sun protection compared well-ventilated, wide brim hats.

Beat the Heat - Boys at the Cricket

 

6. Eat snacks to maintain energy

Try juicy snacks like fruit (watermelon, oranges, grapes, etc.) The last thing you need in scorching heat are dry snacks like crackers, popcorn, or energy bars, that require your body to add water to digest them.

7. Know your limits

Okay, it kills you not to be able to finish your 10km run. May we be so blunt as to suggest that it may kill you if you try. Respect the heat and listen to your body.

Beat the Heat - Exhausted Female Runner

Image credit: Run Society

In 2009 and again in 2014, major heatwaves negatively impacted the health of many Victorians. In both instances, heatwaves unfortunately resulted in loss of life, with an estimated 374 excess deaths in 2009 and 167 in 2014.

FACT: Heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion, which can lead to the life-threatening condition, heatstroke. Heatstroke is fatal in up to 80% of cases!

The Better Health Channel Victoria describes 3 heat related illnesses and what to do if you and someone else has these symptoms:

Heat cramps

Symptoms include:

  • Muscle pains
  • Spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs

What to do?

  • Stop activity and sit quietly in a cool place
  • Drink cool water
  • Rest a few hours before returning to activity
  • See a doctor if cramps persist

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms include:

  • Pale complexion and sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle cramps, weakness
  • Dizziness, headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fainting

What to do?

  • Go to a cool area and lie down
  • Fan if possible
  • Drink cool water if not vomiting
  • Remove outer clothing
  • Wet skin with cool water or wet cloths
  • See a doctor

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency – call 000

Symptoms include:

  • Same symptoms as heat exhaustion except sweating stops
  • Mental condition worsens, confusion
  • Seizure
  • Stroke-like symptoms or collapsing
  • Unconsciousness

What to do?

  • Call an ambulance – phone 000
  • Get the person to a cool area and lay them down
  • Remove clothing
  • Wet skin with water, fanning continuously
  • Position an unconscious person on their side and clear their airway

We hope you found today’s blog as a helpful resource for training safely in the heat this summer.

NB: If you have a specific medical condition that may be worsened by training in the heat or you are unsure whether your medical condition may be affected by the heat, we advise you speak to your GP first, for personalised advice, prior to commencing any exercise.