AUS: 1300 630 488    NZ: 0800 1477 6287

Beat the heat this summer

There is no doubt that this summer has been HOT! Heatwave warnings swept across most of the country, with temperatures reaching high 30s to mid-40s in large areas of Western Australia, southeastern Queensland, coastal and northern NSW, and parts of the Northern Territory.

When even carrying a cup of tea to the balcony draws a trickle of sweat, it can be tempting to let our exercise regime slide. But it is important we keep up our physical activity to stay healthy. For people aged 65 years and over, the Department of Health and Aged Care recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

So, how do we exercise safely in summer? The Cancer Council Queensland offers the following tips to help you sweat it out safely.

1. Acclimatise

Start with short, low-intensity workouts and increase them gradually over two weeks or more. Acclimatisation to heat from regular training in warm conditions markedly increases heat tolerance.

2. Adjust intensity

Exercise intensity should be appropriate to your current fitness level and the weather. Be aware of how you are feeling and rest if needed.

3. Hydrate

As temperatures rise, we sweat more and dehydrate faster, so make sure you always have a refillable bottle of water on hand. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends an average person should drink at least two litres of water daily. Ensure you keep up your water intake throughout the day, particularly before, during and after exercising.

4. Be sun-safe

Sunscreen, broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses and protective clothing will help minimise the risk of the sun’s UV radiation. Be sure to apply SPF30 or higher broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside. Choose light coloured, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that allows easy evaporation of sweat from the skin. Where possible, try to exercise in a shaded area.

5. Plan your training times

Exercise in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hottest parts of the day (10am – 3pm) and reduce the risk of encountering stressful conditions.

6. Seek water

Swimming is not just a great way to cool off, it is also an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. If swimming isn’t your thing, try an aqua-jog or aqua-aerobics class. If you live near the beach, walking through the shallows will keep you cool or try ‘in’s and out’s’, running from the sand to waist height.

7. Alter your location

If it’s simply too hot for the great outdoors, seek out an indoor alternative. Join a class, go for a walk in a shopping centre, or if you have air-conditioning at home pop in a workout DVD or find one online.

Recognising the symptoms of heat illness

Hot, humid conditions can increase the risk of heat illness during exercise. You should always listen to your body and if you start to experience any of the following symptoms stop immediately. Give your body a well-earned rest in a cool area and replenish with water.

  • Light headedness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Obvious fatigue
  • Cessation of sweating
  • Obvious loss of skill and coordination/clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • Confusion
  • Irrational behaviour
  • Altered consciousness
  • Collapse
  • Ashen, grey, pale skin