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Exercising during the heat wave: Six top tips on how to remain safe

Exercising in the heat can lead to fatigue and at worse illness and injury. Naturally, given this, it can also affect your performance. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to adapt to the heat. Knowing what they are will ensure that a spell of hot weather does not affect your performance or safety if you choose to exercise during a heat wave.

1. Whether you are exercising or not, when you are situated within a hot environment, stay hydrated. Consume water regularly (2-3 litre daily). If you are exercising, you can use a sports drink to replenish your store of carbohydrates and electrolytes, which you lose by sweating.

2. When running in the heat, dousing water around your neck and head can be another good strategy. Rather than reducing core body temperature during your run, this might help to reduce your perception of the heat. This makes you feel cooler and comfortable in the heat.

3. A heatwave is not the time to try and set your 5 km record. Exercising in the heat elevates your core body temperature and if you slow down this rise will be less pronounced, allowing you to continue exercising for the full distance or duration in your training schedule. Rethink the time and distance you would like to cover too, as prolonged periods of time in the heat can be dangerous!

4. If you can record your body mass, both before and after your exercise. Try to consume 1-1.5 litres of water for every kilogram of body mass lost. When dehydrated your heart will need to work harder as the viscosity (that is the resistance) of your blood goes up, making it more sticky and harder to pump blood around the body.

5. Try not to exercise during the hottest times of the day (usually the afternoon) and instead exercise when it is cooler such as in the early morning or evening. Radiant heat gain directly from the sun is at its greatest in the afternoon and lower during the morning or evening periods. This will decrease the physiological strain on your body during exercise.

6. If your run can’t wait then plan your route. Look for shaded areas where direct heat gain from the sun will be lower. Finding areas where there is a breeze can help remove the sweat beads that appear on your skin and maintain evaporative heat loss.

These tips should help you stay safe when exercising this weekend.

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