Just like you, the team at our Newmarket physio clinic in central Auckland can’t wait for spring and summer to arrive. There’s something about getting out and about in the sun that makes us all feel good, but in our excitement, it’s easy to overlook the precautions we need to take when we’re exercising in warmer weather. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke aren’t our ideas of fun, but with a little common sense, heat-related illnesses like these can be avoided.
The first thing to do is to acclimatise to the warmer conditions. It’s highly likely you’ve been indoors during the cooler winter months, so when you resume your warm-weather exercise program, take it a little easy at first. Your body will need a week or two to adapt to the heat, so be kind to yourself by gradually increasing the length and intensity of your workouts. As most of us are less active over winter, it’s common for our fitness levels to decrease during that time, so this is another reason why it’s best to ease back into it. Many of the injuries we treat in spring and summer are caused by too much enthusiasm and not enough fitness!
Whether it’s winter or summer, spring or autumn, you should always keep up your fluid intake while exercising. A common factor in most heat-related illnesses is dehydration, so it’s important you help your body sweat and cool down by staying well-hydrated. And whatever you do, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids – consume them regularly even if you might not feel like it. Evaporation of the sweat your body produces will help you stay cooler, and this process is promoted by wearing light, loose-fitting clothing. Avoid dark colours which can absorb heat, and this includes any cap or hat you wear while you’re exercising.
It is best to exercise in the morning or evening when it is cooler and seek out as much shade as you can. It goes without saying that you must wear sunscreen, as sunburn not only increases the risk of cancer but also comprises your body’s ability to stay cool.
Summers in Auckland can be hot and humid, and if things become a little too extreme, have a backup plan so you can exercise indoors if required. A workout in a gym, a few laps of the nearest shopping centre, or even climbing stairs in an air-conditioned building can be more sensible alternatives than exercising under full sun.
While we all love the idea of exercising in warmer weather, we do need to be careful when doing so. But even if you do take every precaution and you still require treatment for an injury, you know where we are. Contact us to make an appointment. In the meantime, enjoy getting out in the sun but take it easy out there!