Exercising In The Heat
As the weather heats up, many of us are keen to get out there and enjoy the sunshine. However, the risks of heat fatigue and heat-stroke are real! Here are some simple tips to avoid heat related illness and injury.
What does heat and humidity do?
Exercising during hot and humid weather places additional stress on your body. Exercise, humidity and heat can all increase your core body temperature and this is worse and compounded in extreme conditions.
During exercise (in the heat) your body will send more blood to your skin to try and help cool itself, however this means there is less blood for your muscles. In turn this will increase the physical demands of exercise and increase your heart rate … it can all become a bit of a cycle.
One of the ways our body maintains a cool temperature is via the evaporative cooling effect of sweat. In humid conditions, less sweat is evaporated thus core body temperature is increased, so is your heart rate … that sneaky cycle once again.
Heat related illness
Heat related illness could occur when the body’s natural cooling systems fail to meet the environmental and physical demands of the exercise. This can be due to high intensity exercise in extremes of weather or prolonged exposure to harsh conditions.
The warning signs of heat illness include:
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive fatigue/reduced performance
- Light headedness
- Rapid heart rate
If you have any of the above signs you should cease exercise immediately!
The following are signs of heat strokethat require urgent medical attention as it can be alife threatening condition (CALL 000 or 112 off a mobile):
- High body temperature >40 degrees
- Absence of sweating
- Difficulty breathing
- Confusion/strange or agitated behavior
- Heat collapse
- Visual problems
Simple tips to avoid a heat related illness:
- Don’t exercise during the middle of the day i.e. avoid exercising between 10am and 4pm.
- Try exercising indoors or if you must exercise outside, try and pick shaded and well-ventilated areas.
- Wear loose fitting, breathable, light coloured clothing.
- Stay sun-safe, wear a hat and sunscreen. Slip, slop, slap :)
- Stay hydrated, pack a water bottle and drink small amounts often.
- Avoid taking up intense or new exercise on hot and humid days.
- Stop and seek medical attention if you get any of the above warning signs!
What to do in case of a heat illness:
The simple and most important answer to this is to SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION! Don’t try and fix this yourself.
Whilst seeking medical attention, get out of the elements, apply cold packs to the head, neck, groin and elbows. Start having fluids but not in excess as this can cause other issues.
Before returning to physical activity after having a heat related illness, ensure that you have been cleared by a medical doctor!
In summary, have fun in the sun (or shade), stay safe, stay cool, stay hydrated and use commonsense … you will be fit and laughing :)