With the temperatures and humidity rising, we know that summer is on its way; and while it makes excellent weather for trips to the beach, it makes it harder for us to exercise safely. However, there are a few things you can do to avoid injuring yourself. Firstly, it is important that you do not jump right in and exercise during the hottest part of the day. Acclimatising is easy and only takes approximately 2 weeks to accomplish. Your body is built to survive and adapt, so exercising for 20-30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity in the shade outside, keeping 2-3 rest days between workouts will be an adequate catalyst for your body to begin adapting to the summer temperatures. After about 2 weeks, you will be able to increase the duration, intensity and frequency of your sessions.
If, at any time, you begin to feel ill, dizzy or not quite right, have a rest and some fluids. Remember to keep your exercise sessions to slightly cooler times of the day and to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. During your session, resist gulping your fluids, and instead sip. If you are participating in a prolonged workout (60 or more minutes), it is probably a better idea to have a sports drink to keep you hydrated. This is because your sweat is made up of electrolytes and water. In order to be able to perform well you need to replenish your electrolytes (found in sports drinks) which are depleted when you sweat excessively.
Lastly, as the weather does begin to heat up, remember to be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. While heat exhaustion is rarely life-threatening, it can lead to serious illness if left untreated. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, dizziness, light-headedness and a rapid pulse. Be aware of your body and stop activity if you experience any of these symptoms. Find somewhere cool and shady to sit or lie down. If possible, sip cool fluids.
Heat stroke is a serious condition that occurs if heat exhaustion is ignored. Symptoms can include disorientation, throbbing headache, unconsciousness, elevated body temperature, nausea, vomiting, strong, rapid pulse and red, hot, dry skin; however, there may be other manifestations depending on the individual. You should seek medical assistance and get the victim to a cool, shady area. You should begin to cool them by any means available (e.g. hose, shower, wet towels, fanning) and monitor their body temperature, if possible. If the victim is unconscious, ensure their airway is clear; and if they are vomiting or nauseous, do not give them fluids.