Heat Survival Tips for SAFRA AVventura

Heat Survival Tips for SAFRA AVventura

SAFRA AVventura 2015: Abseiling at Republic Polytechnic checkpoint
SAFRA AVventura 2015: Abseiling at Republic Polytechnic checkpoint

Nothing like a thrilling adventure sports race to start off the new year! SAFRA AVventura, happening on 10 Jan 2016, promises a day of fun, gruelling activities as well as exciting mystery challenges in between! All of which will take place under the hot Singapore sun, as participants would typically traverse across the island through various local parks and mountain bike trails.

Previously, we spoke with Dr Andrew Dutton from the Singapore Medical Group (SMG) about the smarter ways to exercise. However, besides training to be physically ready, participants also need to be prepared for other aspects of the competition, such as dealing with outdoor weather conditions.

This week, we chat with Dr Lim Kai Hung, Family Physician from Lifescan Medical Centre (formerly known as SMG Medical) to learn more about the effects of strenuous activities in the heat for long durations and how to combat relating injuries and conditions.

Knowing the symptoms of heat injury can be a life saver!
Knowing the symptoms of heat injury can be a life saver!

What are some of the most important things everyone needs to know about exercising in the heat?

Heat injuries occur when the body is unable to cope with excessive heat exposure or unable to disperse heat due to various reasons (e.g. dehydration or a combination of both factors). Heat injuries can become potentially serious if not treated. People prone to heat injury include children and the elderly.

Symptoms of heat injury may include the following:

  • Neurological symptoms like near fainting, nausea, giddiness, dizziness, and headache.
  • Feeling of thirst
  • Dry mucous membranes e.g. mouth, tongue.
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue

In serious cases, it can progress to something called heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and is potentially life threatening. Patients affected with heatstroke presents with a high body temperature, an inability to sweat properly and confusion, coma or delirium. It can also lead to multi-organ failure such as kidney and liver failure.

Constant hydration is important for exercising in the sun.
Constant hydration is important for exercising in the sun.

On the actual race day, what can participants do to avoid and combat the more serious conditions like heat exhaustion or dehydration? How can they prepare before the race to avoid those conditions altogether?

Participants can take the following steps:

  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes
  • Ensure plenty of hydration before, during and after any physical activity
  • Before the race, avoid doing prolonged strenuous exercises or activities under hot sun. Ideally, do them in the early morning or evening instead (cooler times of the day).
  • Recognise symptoms of heat injuries and if so, hydrate or move to a cooler area if symptoms occur.

A good gauge of hydration would be from observing the urine colour. Ideally, urine should be light yellow to clear.

Pay extra attention to your kids if they’re playing under the scorching hot sun!
Pay extra attention to your kids if they’re playing under the scorching hot sun!

What can participants do to treat such conditions or injuries during the race? How to tell if it’s okay to continue or stop completely? We also have participants as young as 7 to 14 years old taking part in the competition. Any specific advice for them?

Young children are more prone to heat injuries as mentioned. They produce more heat with activity, sweat less and have a larger relative surface area as compared to an adult. It is also common for children not to drink enough fluids whenever they are engaged in a fun activity.

To avoid heat injury, ensure plenty of hydration before, during and after any strenuous physical activities

Wear suitable clothing for exercising.

If you find that your child shows symptoms of heat injury, basic first aid manoeuvres include moving your child to a shady area, giving cool fluids, removing excess clothing and placing wet cloths or ice packs on the body in areas like the armpits and groin.

If your child is not responding to the above or presents with symptoms suggestive of heatstroke, seek medical attention immediately.

Apply sunblock to avoid burn injuries.
Apply sunblock to avoid burn injuries.

After exercising in the hot sun for long durations, how should participants rest to recover before the next event or competition?

Hydration is key after exposure to the hot sun for long hours. Moisturising the skin would also be important as prolonged exposure under sun causes burn injuries, especially if no sunblock was applied.

Recovery period differs from person to person. For the competitive seasoned athlete, they will have lesser down time as compared to a non-seasoned participant. A good indication of when the body is ready for the next event is the complete recovery from the aches and pains of the body.

Present your SAFRA card at the Lifescan Medical clinic at Arcade to get a $15 consultation (excl. GST)!

Make an appointment with SMG:
Contact: 6735 3000

Learn How to Exercise Smarter with SMG & check out the full list of services by SMG!

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