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How To Prevent Overheating While Exercising

An exercise induced heat illness is a serious, and sometimes fatal, health risk which active people can experience while exercising during the warmer months of the year. Exercise heat induced illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, is a condition which manifests when the body’s thermoregulatory systems are unable to properly maintain its core temperature, causing it to rise above 37 degrees Celsius. 

Keeping a constant body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius is vital. If you are exercising in warm and humid weather, make sure you can identify the early warning signs and symptoms of heat induced illnesses and to take proper steps to recognise, and more importantly, prevent its occurrence. 

Heat exhaustion, one of the most common heat induced illnesses, is the body’s reaction to severe dehydration and an excessive loss of water and salt through sweat. Normally, the body cools itself by sending more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn, increases your body temperature. This mild elevation in body temperature is normally controlled by sweating which allows a person to cool through evaporation. Once a person becomes too dehydrated to sweat, the body is unable to cool, causing your core temperature to rise rapidly and dramatically. High humidity also prevents sweat from evaporating, again, not allowing a person to cool effectively and eventually resulting in heat exhaustion, and extreme cases, heat stroke. 


Heat Exhaustion

Heat Exhaustion is likely to occur when a person’s body temperature rises above 37 degrees but below 40 degrees Celsius. 


  • Moist, Clammy Skin 
  • Heavily Sweating 
  • Pupils Dilated 
  • Deterioration in sporting performance 


  • Elevated Heart Rate 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle Cramps 
  • Headache 
  • Faint/Dizziness 
  • Nausea and Vomiting 

If untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to circulatory collapse and heat stroke. 


Heat Stroke

Heat Stoke is the most serious form of heat-induced illnesses, with a body temperature higher than 40 degrees Celsius. 


  • Dry Skin (lack of sweating ) 
  • Rapid, Shallow Breathing 
  • Pupils Concentrated 


  • Headache 
  • Thirst 
  • Nausea and Vomiting 
  • Muscle Cramps 
  • Vertigo 
  • Confusion 
  • Headache 
  • Thirst 



To prevent heat-induced illness, be sure to hydrate, train, acclimatize and be aware of the ambient temperature. 

  • Hydrate - It is recommended you drink at least 500ml of water 2 hours before exercising. During sport, you should aim to drink 200ml every 20 minutes. If you plan to exercise for over an hour, make sure you add in consumption of a sports drink. After exercise, it is important to drink another half-litre of water. 
  • Fitness - A physically fit body is better able to manage the stresses of heat during exercise. 
  • Acclimatisation - Keep up a routine of exercise in the cooler months, so your body is prepared for exercise in the warner months. 
  • Ambient Temperature - When considering the degree of risk of developing a heat induced illness during exercise, special attention must be paid to not just the temperature, but the ambient temperature, which takes into account the degree of humidity. Avoid training in the hottest part of the day.



If someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, you should: 

1. Lie the casualty down 

2. Loosen and remove excessive clothing 

3. Moisten skin with a moist cloth/washer 

4. If clothes are wet, replace with dry clothes 

5. Cool by fanning and place wrapped ice packs to the neck, groin, and armpits 

6. If the casualty if fully conscious, give them cool water to drink 


If heat exhaustion develops into heat stroke, you should: 

1. Call 000 and ask for an Ambulance 

2. Follow DRSABCD 

3. Moisten skin with wet cloth/washer and fan repeatedly. 

4. Place wrapped ice packs to the neck, groin, and armpits 


This article was kindly supplied by: Australia Wide First Aid 


This article was research and created for the purpose of first aid information. All information read should not be used in place of advice from qualified health professionals. 


1. Australia Wide First Aid Online Manual - https://www.australiawidefirstaid.com.au/files/AWFAmanual-ed1-website.pdf?utm_source=confirmation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=confirmation_email 

2. Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048167 

3. Better Health Channel - http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Heat_stress_and_sport_reducing_the_risks?open 

4. The Sport Factory for Peak Performance - http://thesportfactory.com/site/trainingnews/Heat-Stress_Disorders_and_Exercise.shtml 

5. About Health - http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/enviromentalissues/a/Heat-Exhaustion.htm 

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