The heat of summer combined with a busy social calendar means exercise routines often fall down the priority list in December. We’ve put a list together to help you counteract the overindulgence and keep active, while taking appropriate precautions to avoid nasties like heatstroke.
To minimise dehydration, drink about two cups of water in the 2 hours before exercising. During exercise lasting 60 minutes or longer, 2-3 cups (500-750 ml) of cool water or sports drink per hour are sufficient for most sports.
Water intake exceeding sweat loss in events lasting several hours can lead to the harmful condition of hyponatraemia (low blood sodium).
Start slow and work your way up. You may not be able to push yourself as hard as normal when it’s really hot and humid, so slow down.
Avoid the hottest part of the day
Get up early and exercise before the sun packs a punch, or go out at sunset or later if it is safe to do so. In the heat of the day, take cover under shade. Go for a swim or sign up for an aqua-aerobics class.
Dress the part
Light weight, light coloured, loose fitting clothes, made of natural fibres or composite fabrics with high wicking (absorption) properties, that provide for adequate ventilation are recommended as the most appropriate clothing in the heat. Always wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
Wear protective equipment such as helmets, padding and/or mouthguards, where required and remove as soon as activity is finished.
If you’re feeling any of the following, rest immediately
- Paling of the skin
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
For people who don’t exercise regularly or those who are at increased risk of heat-related illness, avoid exercising in the heat, such as the middle of the day or rooms with poor air circulation. Instead, opt for a prescribed, gradual and incremental exercise program. Some medications may also have an effect on your ability to exercise safely in the heat. Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure.
The Conversation Health Check: how to exercise safely in the heat
Find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist www.essa.org.au
Exercise Right www.exerciseright.com.au
Exercise is Medicine Australia www.exerciseismedicine.org.au