Be sport smart in the heat

05 February 2016
Perth and the metropolitan area is expecting a heat wave with a series of consecutive days over 35 degrees expected. People training, competing in sports events or generally being active are urged to take precautions to avoid heat stress.

While we don’t want to discourage you from being physically active, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent harm from the heat.

Your body produces more heat when you exercise, and that heat, combined with the outside heat, can create dangerously high body temperatures.

Failing to be aware of the effects of heat on the body during these periods of extreme heat puts you at risk of becoming dehydrated, or feeling ill with heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat wave infographic showing the forecast temperatures and affected areas

People most at risk

According to the Department of Health media release, the young, elderly, people with disability, those who work in the outdoors and people with existing medical conditions are at the greatest risk of harm from high temperatures.

Sport and recreation clubs

We are advising all our sport and recreation clubs to take great care over the next few days by ensuring participants are well hydrated during competitions and training.

Recommendations for those planning to be active

  • Aim to exercise very early in the morning, or at night when the temperature is cooler.
  • In hot conditions, reduce the time you spend warming-up and exercise at a slower pace.
  • Don’t exercise if you feel unwell or are recovering from recent illness.
  • If you start to feel ill whilst exercising, slow down or stop.
  • If you exercise outdoors during the heat, try to find some shade.
  • Drink plenty of water before and during exercise. At least 2-3 litres of water should be drunk a day during hot weather.
  • Sports drinks are specifically designed to help hydration, as they help replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating.
  • Clothing should allow easy evaporation of sweat from the skin. It should be light coloured, light weight and loose fitting, and provide protection from the sun. Cotton rather than nylon/synthetic fabric is a better choice, as it absorbs sweat and is not usually irritating to the skin.
  • If possible, wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses. Caps do not provide adequate sun protection.
  • Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before exposure to the sun, so it can be absorbed into the skin and provide effective protection.
  • Reapply sunscreen as instructed on the bottle. In general, this is every 2-3 hours or more often if sweating heavily, or if swimming.
  • Children must be protected from over-exertion in hot weather, especially with intense or endurance exercise, like football.
  • Females may suffer more during exercise in the heat because of their greater percentage of body fat, compared to men.
  • Have a back-up plan so you don’t have to exercise outdoors during hot weather. Work out at an air-conditioned gym, walk laps inside a shopping centre or climb stairs in an air-conditioned building.

Additional information