Don't let the weather get in your way
Updated: Sep 6
Exercise needs to be a part of our regular schedule to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent many health problems. In summer, exercising outdoors is particularly enticing... the fresh air, the sunshine, the freedom. However, this summer has been particularly interesting for us Melbournians in regards to the weather. We have had extreme heat, rain, hail and of course the smoke from the bush fires. Whilst exercising outdoors may have many extra benefits, we need to take care in these variable weather conditions.
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. Both the exercise itself and the outside conditions can increase your core body temperature. The body tries to cool itself, so sends more blood to the surface and away from your muscles. This increases your heart rate. When your body's cooling system fails, the result may be a heat related illness, such as heat exhaustion.
Stay safe during hot weather exercise by drinking fluids, wearing appropriate clothing and timing your exercise to avoid the highest temperatures. Also, have a back up plan - if you're concerned about the heat then stay indoors inside and air-conditioned building.
Exercising in the wet - not the most enticing but can be rewarding when we embrace it and get moving. Being prepared is so important. Not only does it make it more enjoyable, it also makes it safe.
be visible by wearing bright or light clothing. It is hard for you to see in the rain, but it is also hard to be seen.
rain is ok, but do not exercise outside in a thunderstorm or when hail is predicted.
wear appropriate shoes. It is slippery out there in the rain, quality shoes with a grippy sole can make a difference.
a hat or visor with a brim can be really helpful to keep the rain from your eyes.
dress in layers. But dress for the temperature itself, like it was a dry day. You will still heat up from the exercise. Choose water -resistant clothing rather than water-proof. Water-proof will trap the moisture and heat and can lead to overheating.
chaffing can happen during any run but it much worse in the rain. Vaseline can really help. Put it where you would normally chafe or get blisters. Prevention is far more comfortable.
lastly, get changed straight after you exercise.
Bush fire smoke and air pollution can irritate the respiratory system as the fine particles travel deep into the lungs and cause damage. For short periods of time, some healthy people may be able to tolerate being exposed to air pollution.
During exercise we breathe faster and deeper, which increases our exposure and risk. It is much safer to exercise indoors. If you must exercise outdoors, it is important to look at your local Air Quality Index (AQI). This index looks at the particles in the air and rates the air quality from very good through to hazardous. We should avoid being very active outside when the air quality is below very poor.
It is not know at what level of air pollution causes negative effects and may depend on the health of the individual. But if you have the option on poor air quality days, exercise indoors. If you experience any changes in your health or symptoms then see a health care professional.
Exercise is so important for your health, but so is your safety. Make informed and wise decisions in terms of where you exercise and when. Speak to your healthcare professional for advice and options.