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The warm summer weather has finally arrived, people are spending more time outdoors for training, and families are enjoying recreational activities to have fun. Everyone loves this time of year. There are so many opportunities to be physically active, whether it's relaxing in nature or playing an intense game of soccer. However, during heat waves, it is good to know what are the right steps to take to prevent heat-related injuries, both for you and for your loved ones.

How does extreme heat affect the body?

Extreme heat combined with the effects of humidity affects the body and its ability to cool itself. When the air is saturated with vapour, the perspiration from the body does not evaporate as well. Since your body can't cool down any longer, you'll continue to sweat, which can lead to early symptoms of heat-related illnesses, including:

  • abnormal or elevated body temperature;
  • redness on the body;
  • excessive sweating;
  • short, rapid breaths and/or a rapid or weak pulse;
  • heat cramps, nausea, vomiting, weakness or loss of consciousness.

What can I do to protect myself?

Clothing : Loose, light fabrics allow better air circulation and facilitate the evaporation of perspiration. You should wear light-coloured clothing, ideally made of wicking fabrics. Avoid wearing clothes made of dark synthetic fabrics that don't let your skin breathe.

Nutrition – Daily nutrition can easily be overlooked when dealing with the heat, but it's good to know that water-rich foods can help keep you hydrated. Melons, strawberries, and citrus fruits, as well as vegetables like cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, and peppers can help you survive hot weather.

Hydration – Try to stick to water when it's really hot. If you're moving at high intensity for 45 minutes or more, an energy drink can help replenish your electrolytes, but it's not recommended to be consumed every day. Also avoid drinking carbonated drinks, as they can have dehydrating effects.

Time of day – You can train even during a heat wave, as long as you train in a climate-controlled indoor facility or your outdoor exercises are done before or after the hottest part of the day . All exercises done in the morning or evening are beneficial. Be sure to wear reflective clothing, though, so cars can see you without a problem.

Acclimatization – The human body can withstand cold more than heat, so give yourself plenty of time to get used to it. Regular exposure to heat or humid conditions allows the body to adapt and reduce the risk of injury.

As the days get longer, everyone wants to be active outdoors, and sometimes we overlook safety if we get too excited. When it comes to combining heat, humidity and physical activity, taking extra precautions can help keep you cool and safe, even in hot weather.

Jeff Theberge

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