Warm, sunny days are perfect for heading outdoors and having fun, but with extreme heat sure to hit Queensland this summer, it’s time to start considering how you will get active safely and consistently.
Exercising in hot or humid conditions can put extra stress on your body and lead to dehydration and heat illness.
While Queenslanders need to 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.
One, acclimatise. Start with short, low-intensity workouts and increase them gradually over two weeks or more.
Two, hydrate. 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.
Three, 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.
Four, 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.
Five, 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.
Six, 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.
Seven, alter. 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.
Being physically active is more than burning kilojoules and building muscle; it’s also fun, social and essential for your health and well-being.
At least one-third of all cancer cases can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices, so it’s important that as a community we strive to achieve a better quality of life and maintain healthy habits to prevent cancer where possible.
To help Queenslanders make the healthy choice, the easy choice – Queenslanders can get involved with Cancer Council’s free cancer prevention program QUEST.
With resources and tools to help reduce cancer risk, QUEST is free for organisations or community groups, big or small. Visit www.quest.org.au today to find out more.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or Cancer Council’s 13 11 20.
Ms Chris McMillan
CEO, Cancer Council Queensland