How to exercise safely in the heat

It’s important to exercise all year round for good health, but it’s equally important to consider the frequency, intensity and type of exercise you do during the warmer months.

Physical activity in hot weather puts increased stress on your body. Exercise, along with air temperature and humidity, can increase your core temperature and blood glucose levels. It’s important to take extra care to avoid heat-related illnesses such as cramping, lightheadedness, dehydration, heat exhaustion and, in severe cases, heat stroke.

Here’s some tips to stay safe while exercising in the heat.

Monitor the outside temperature:

Choosing cooler times of the day to be active (eg, early morning or late afternoon) will place less stress on your body and be much more comfortable. Avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day.

Get acclimatised and take breaks:

If you’re not used to exercising outdoors in hot conditions take longer to warm up (10 to 15 mins). This will make sure your body is better prepared before increasing intensity. By taking regular breaks you can better monitor how hot you feel. Don’t forget to allow breaks to drink water.

Drink plenty of water:

When your body is dehydrated, blood glucose becomes more concentrated due to the decrease in blood flow through the kidneys. This makes it much more difficult for the kidneys to remove any excess glucose from urine. It is also important to stay hydrated to help your body sweat and cool down.

Monitor your blood glucose levels:

Check your blood glucose levels before, during and after physical activity to ensure they remain in your target range.

Protect yourself:

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, sunscreen and a hat. To be safe, always wear shoes, and check your feet carefully for injuries or blisters at the end of each day.

Consider your exercise environment:

It’s a good idea to try out different exercises during the warmer months. Swimming, aqua aerobics or walking at your local air-conditioned shopping centre can help you stay cooler.

Protect your medication:

Heat can damage your blood glucose monitor, insulin pump and other supplies used for managing diabetes, so it’s important to keep them out of direct sunlight.

Don’t let the summer heat stop you from being physically active – there are plenty of ways to modify your exercise regime to participate in outdoor activities and enjoy all types of weather, with a few precautions.

By Hayley Nicholson

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