News & Articles
Beat the heat and stay safe during exercise
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Heat cramps are muscle spasms, most commonly felt in the arms, legs and abdomen. During prolonged or intense training heavy sweating can deplete the body’s supply of electrolytes, particularly sodium.
If you think you are suffering from heat exhaustion stop exercising immediately. Drink fluids and lie down with your feet elevated. Apply cold, wet towels to lower your temperature. If symptoms continue seek medical advice.
What is it?
How can you treat it?
Heat stroke is a severe illness that requires immediate medical attention. While waiting for the emergency services to arrive you should move into the shade, remove as much clothing as possible and cool the body with water or placing ice packs in the armpit and groin areas.
- Avoid the hottest times of the day. Training early in the morning or later in the evening will help to reduce the risk.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking fluids before, during and after exercise will help to maintain hydration levels. Water is adequate for hydration but you may like to try a sports drink, which will also help to replace lost carbohydrates and electrolytes. You should also avoid diuretic drinks such as caffeine and alcohol.
- Dress appropriately. Cool, loose clothing is a must, preferable made from a sweat wicking fabric. If you’re wearing short sleeves or shorts, ensure you are using a high factor suncscreen. Alternatively, look for sports gear made from UV resistant fabrics. Make sure you also have a cap or hat to protect your head.
- Decrease the intensity and take regular breaks. Even if you’re super-fit you will be affected by the heat. Listen to your body and, if necessary, exercise at a lower level than usual.
- Head for the shade. Most parks have trees or undercover areas which will provide shade. If you’re out running or walking, try to stick to the shady side of the street.
- Train with a friend. Having a training partner is always fun and it’s a great way to stay safe in the sun. You will be able to keep an eye on each other and, if necessary, organise help.