Exercising in the heat isn’t necessarily dangerous – it’s how you cope with it that is. 

Each year, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) reminds members of the public to be aware of the warning signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other forms of heat-related illness. 

Those who are new to the country, or who haven’t experienced such extremes of temperature before, may not realise the importance of keeping an eye on your health during the summer months, especially if trying to maintain an active lifestyle. Both the exercise in question and the air temperature can combine to raise the core body temperature. Factor in humidity and the body will have an increased problem cooling itself down.

Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be reversed by drinking more fluids. However, severe cases of dehydration and heat-related illneses are medical emergencies and require immediate treatment. Left untreated, heatstroke can damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles and cause long-term complications. 

Of course sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur at any time of the year. Heat-related illnesses are more common in Qatar during the summer months though due to the high temperatures and humidity levels. Those most at risk are young children, older adults and those taking medication that increase sensitivity to sunlight, as they cannot adjust to changes in environmental conditions as quickly as healthy adults. 

Exposure to the sun is a good way of the body getting Vitamin D and improving bone health. However, plan any exercise – even walking – either early in the morning or late at night to avoid direct exposure between 10 am and 3 pm when the sun is at its strongest – and always wear sunscreen. 

The body will be sweating more, so you may need to include sport drinks or add electrolyte tablets or rehydration sachets to water to add salts back to your body. Plan to drink a lot more than usual, and if necessary, tailor workouts to include shorter stints.

If you do start to feel unwell, get out of the sun immediately and either go to a shaded area or if possible, somewhere with air conditioning. Lower body temperature by removing heavy clothing, apply a cold compress and rehydrate with water. You should start to feel better within 30 – 45 minutes.  If you suspect heatstroke, dial 999 and seek emergency assistance. 

NB: If you are fasting, HMC recommends exercising in the evening or indoors, and to drink two to three litres of water when your fast is broken.

Author: Sarah Palmer

This article is from Marhaba Information Guide Issue No 77 Spring/Summer 2020.

Copyright © Marhaba Information Guide. Reproduction of material from Marhaba Information Guide’s book or website without written permission is strictly prohibited. Using Marhaba Information Guide’s material without authorisation constitutes as plagiarism as well as copyright infringement.