Warm, sunny days are perfect for exercising outdoors, but hot and humid conditions can put extra stress on your body and lead to dehydration and heat illness.
While Cancer Council Queensland recommends Queenslanders exercise regularly to stay healthy – 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity or 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day is recommended – they should take certain precautions when exercising in the hotter months and be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
Here are seven tips to help you sweat it out safely:
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Start with short, low-intensity workouts and increase them gradually over two weeks or more.
Often during the warmer months, we sweat and dehydrate at a faster rate, so ensure you keep up your water intake all through the day and have a refillable bottle of water on hand. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that in a mild climate, an average person needs to drink about a litre and a half of fluids each day, while much more may be needed to prevent the body becoming dehydrated in hotter temperatures.
3. Be sun-ready.
Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and protective clothing will all 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 and check the UV levels using Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app. Choosing lightweight and loose-fitting clothing will allow the easy evaporation of sweat from the skin.
4. Plan your training times.
Change your outdoor sessions to avoid the hottest parts of the day (10am – 3pm) and instead exercise in the early morning or late afternoon. If you are concerned about certain sessions look at the upcoming forecast when structuring your training program.
5. Have something to train for.
Come up with a performance related goal or sign up to a fun run this summer. There’s nothing like a deadline to get you motivated to improve your fitness.
6. Seek water.
Swimming is not just a way to cool off, but an excellent cardiovascular exercise. If swimming isn’t for you, head for an aqua-jog, or if you live near the beach try ‘in’s and out’s’, running from the sand to waist height.
When the weather’s taking the life out of your workout, change plans. Use an indoor alternative – join a class or if you’ve got air-conditioning at home, pop in a workout DVD. Go for a shopping centre walk, try running for time instead of distance on super-hot days or trade heat-radiating roads for shaded loops where you can re-fill on water.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or via 13 11 20.