Sports Pitch

Exercise In Warm Conditions

Last updated: 6.38pm, Sunday 25th June 2023 by

If you are enjoying this very rare long and largely roasting Scottish Summer or are planning a holiday in the sun or watching our top tennis players competing at Wimbledon next month you may be aware of some of the effects of exercising at extreme temperatures.

Many of us enjoy being active on holiday but even relatively moderate exercise like a game of golf or cycling and especially the summer 10K or fun runs can lead to significant heat problems and fluid loss. Most of us are aware of the risks of too much exposure to the sun and the need to protect ourselves and drink plenty. However exercising in these conditions brings additional problems as a result of both the intense heat and dehydration.

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Most of us will have had heat cramps at some time while on holiday. By the end of a day lying in the sun we often feel a bit tired with muscle tightness in the back of the legs. More serious are heat exhaustion and especially heat stroke which result in profuse sweating, cold clammy skin, dizziness, headache and nausea.

So how can we avoid the serious effects of heat during exercise or even on moderate activity on holiday? It really is a case of good preparation and prevention. Those taking part in sport or exercise in warm conditions should try to acclimatise before the event with gradual and increasing exposure.

Drink, Drink, Drink! Thirst is a very poor guide to dehydration and the body will be short of fluid well before we feel the need to drink. Water is best for most of us but as the heat and intensity of exercise increases then salt loss via sweat is increased, so one of the salt (electrolyte) drinks is preferred.

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But remember - no alcohol, which only worsens the dehydration. Exercise in the cooler times of the day, wear lighter clothing and eat smaller lighter meals. If you suffer from the effects of heat try to move out of the sun, loosen tight clothing, encourage drinks and try to cool down with cool towels, fans etc. If in doubt get medical assistance – don’t take a chance.

Perhaps the best (or worst) example of a sporting event in warm climatic conditions is the infamous Marathon of the Sands where runners compete over 150 miles of the Sahara Desert. In addition to the intense heat – over 120 degrees- the runners have to carry their own shelter, water and food for the seven-day event.

Think we'll stick to a quiet game of golf with a cool drink at the 19th hole. Enjoy an active summer and stay hydrated!