Summer is the time when people explore new and different sports or outdoor activities. However, if people are not trained or acclimatised for summer conditions or outdoor activities then they are more prone to develop sports or heat-related injuries. The human body survives and functions optimally when it regulates core body temperature between 35 and 41°C, it acts like a furnace as it burns more fiercely during exercise (1). Chemical energy stored in the muscle as ATP is used during exercise and it is converted into mechanical energy (movement/running). However, only 25 % of ATP is used for this purpose while the other 75 % is lost as heat. Heat production in the body usually follows a linear fashion with the increase in speed of running, walking or other exercises (1). The human brain regulates the exercise intensity “in anticipation”, specifically to ensure that the body temperature does not rise excessively (2). Thus, the real challenge for the body, especially during competitive exercise in the heat, is to lose heat fast enough to allow the highest possible exercise intensity at which thermal homeostasis can still be achieved, without progressive heat accumulation leading to heatstroke (1). The body loses heat by increasing the heated blood flow through muscles which are transferred to the skin surface in the form of sweat production. More heat is lost through evaporation of sweat than the falling of sweat (1).
The following tips help in body conditioning to harsh summer weather and in preventing sports or heat injuries.
- Avoid hot sun for more than 15- 20 minutes and use sunscreen.
- Take as much as fluid as tolerable to replace all the sweat loss during exercise to optimise performance (3, 4).
- The usual range of fluid intake varies from 400 – 800 ml/hr in most recreational and competitive sports activities. Fluid may be taken at every 2-3km during running based on thirst dictate and tolerable limit (5).
- Dehydration causes early fatigue, mild dizziness, confusion; but don’t wait for these symptoms; stay well hydrated.
- Drink plenty of water/fluid/juice; hydration increase muscle flexibility, bone density and skin elasticity.
- Eat water-rich foods, vegetables &fruits (watermelon/melon/orange/cucumber).
- Don’t consume very cold fluid/water immediately after exercise as it may cause nauseating sensation (6).
Warm up & Indoor Work Out:
- If necessary, before beginning a new sport, design your workout so that you start with training for conditioning of the body.
- Do regular exercises to tone up your muscles and improve bone strength.
- Stretch before & after a workout; take a small break during work out.
- When the outdoor temperature rises, try to reduce your frequency, intensity and duration of strenuous exercises.
- Try to do intense workouts during the early morning, in the evening or when sunshine and heat are at their lowest.
- Swimming is one of the best low impact exercises during summer, however, don’t stay too long in the sun in uncovered pools.
Outdoor work out/activities:
- Even in the heat, use protective gear: Don’t forget to protect your head with a helmet as well as elbow and knee support for contact sports.
- Don’t wear flip-flops for long periods of time; Wear comfortable shoes or sports specific shoes (Tennis/soccer/running shoes).
- Avoid gardening for long hours, maintain proper posture, try to bend your knees while lifting heavy things.
- Avoid running when humidity is more than 70-80% and the wind is still because heat loss from the body by evaporation of sweat will be less effective and there will more risk of developing heat stroke (1).
- Some children live a sedentary life, eating large unhealthy meals. They should eat more nutrient-rich food that provides energy and hydration. to prevent child obesity7,8,9,10. Encourage more physical activities when there is less sun or indoor activities, healthy food and avoid too much sugar-rich energy fluid.
- Maintain adequate nutritious diet.