Making the news headlines – parts of the UK are hotter than Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Maldives!

As we know, exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on the body as the air temperature and humidity can increase core body temperature.

As instructors, we wanted to offer you advice for both yourself and your participants as the temperature rises.  Some of you will teach in air conditioned studios, but we still need to educate our participants and remind ourselves about symptoms of overheating and how best we can prepare ourselves to make the most out of our workout sessions..

Hot weather may cause some of the following conditions

  • Heat cramps – painful muscle contractions that can occur with exercise, although body temperature may be normal.
  • Heat syncope is a feeling of light-headedness or fainting, often occurring when standing quickly after sitting for a long period of time.
  • Heat exhaustion causes body temperature to rise as high as 40 C. If left untreated, it can lead to heatstroke.
  • Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when body temperature is greater than 40 C. Skin may be dry from lack of sweat, or it may be moist.

As a group exercise instructor, what can you do?

  • Take note of weather forecasts and temperature and adjust the intensity of your programme accordingly.
  • Have a backup plan. Hold classes indoors if the building is cooler or move classes outdoors to the cooler shade if possible.
  • Keep the space as cool as possible by ventilating, although if it is hotter outside than indoors, keep windows and doors shut. Close blinds or curtains to shade from the sun.
  • Remind participants that they should arrive at class fully hydrated.
  • Factor in more breaks so you and your participants can have frequent drinks to keep hydrated which helps the body sweat and cool down. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids as dehydration is a key factor in heat illness.
  • Give time for participants to acclimatise by starting with some gentle exercises and give plenty of options so they can work at a comfortable level. Anyone new to exercise or who is relatively unfit may have a lower tolerance to the heat.
  • If you have a full schedule, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.
  • Ensure your class is dressed appropriately in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing which helps sweat evaporate.
  • If holding outdoor classes. avoid the hottest part of the day. Exercise in the shade if possible.
  • Wear high factor sunscreen and remind your class to do the same. Sunburn decreases the body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer.
  • Be aware of medical risks as certain conditions or medications can increase the risk of a heat-related illness. Participants should have checked with their doctor before exercising.

Keep a close eye on class participants and watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. These include:

  • a headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • being very thirsty

The NHS has a list of symptoms and what to do.

If possible, have someone stay with the person who can help monitor their condition. If someone has heat exhaustion, follow these four steps:

  1. Move them to a cool place.
  2. Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
  3. Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.
  4. Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too.

They should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes. If in doubt during this situation, call 111 for further advice. In a medical emergency, call 999.

Did you know that EMD UK members can access discounts on first aid training? Find out what other benefits you could get here.