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Sports and exercise in the heat

Regular exercise improves your health and wellbeing. But at high temperatures the exertion can also be harmful. Find out here what precautions to take if you do sport in the summer months.

When the sun starts burning down and the temperature soars, most people head for the pool. But a few dedicated souls still manage to find the motivation to do sport. To make sure your training does you good despite the heat, there are a few things you should watch out for. When the weather’s hot, physical exertion can put a lot of strain on your cardiovascular system, and you can end up with sunstroke, heatstroke or circulatory problems.

Make sure you sweat sufficiently
The body has various cooling mechanisms to keep itself from overheating. One vital way is sweating. It keeps the body cool, but also means you can lose a lot of fluid, which can lead to circulatory problems. So it’s important to drink plenty. Make sure you always take a bottle of water or diluted fruit juice when you do sport in the summer. The rule of thumb is that you should drink at least a litre for every hour you exercise in the heat.

Have the right clothes and equipment
When it’s hot it’s important to wear the right sports clothing. It should be lightweight, light in colour and breathable. Close-fitting functional sportswear is particularly good because it doesn’t prevent you from sweating. Use plenty of water-resistant sunblock – avoid oily or greasy creams because they’ll only block your pores and stop you sweating. Wear something to protect your head and neck.

Reduce the intensity
When it’s hot your heart beats more quickly at the same level of exercise, so in general try to reduce the intensity and duration. Ideal are sports such as tennis and volleyball where you get to take breaks in between bouts of exertion. Whatever happens, don’t do sport in the midday heat. The best time is early in the morning when the temperature’s pleasant and ozone levels are low.

Know your own limits
Regardless of your sporting ambitions you should always heed the body’s signals and ease off if necessary. If you experience muscle cramp, headaches, dizziness, weakness or nausea you should stop exercising immediately and find a cool place. Drink plenty and don’t exert yourself any more.

sante24: free health advice
If you have questions related to your health, as an insured member of SWICA you can call the doctors and healthcare professionals at sante24 for expert advice, free of charge and around the clock: Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86