Outdoor activities in heat and smog
Learn how to beat the heat while performing outdoor activities!
The risks to your health increase when you exercise or do hard physical activities in the heat, humidity, and smog. Learn how to protect yourself and others.
Heat, humidity, and smog can be very dangerous. They can cause heat-related illness. The risks to your health increase when you exercise or do hard physical activities in the heat, humidity and smog.
Take the following 3 steps to protect your health:
Step 1: Know and understand the risks
Being active is great for your overall health, but during extreme heat it can put you at risk, even if you are healthy. Your risk increases if you have:
- breathing difficulties
- heart problems
- a mental illness such as depression
- hypertension or kidney problems
If you are taking medication or have a health condition, ask your health care provider or pharmacist if the heat increases your risk of complications and follow their recommendations.
When you exercise or work outdoors in the heat, humidity, and smog, you:
- Breathe harder than normal, bringing dirty air deeper into your lungs.
- Breathe mostly through your mouth, bypassing the filtering action of your nose.
- Increase your body temperature, so your body has to work harder to keep cool.
Step 2: Protect yourself and those around you
- Limit the time spent outdoors during the hottest part of the day.
- Reschedule sports practices and outdoor activities to another time, when the heat, humidity, and smog have passed.
- Exercise indoors in an air-conditioned area.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity. During activity, drink water at least every 15 to 20 minutes.
- Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting, and lightweight clothing with a tight weave to cover arms and legs.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and wraparound sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection.
- Apply plenty of sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, labelled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant”. Reapply when needed (especially after swimming, sweating, or toweling). Use a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher to protect your lips.
- Take lots of rest breaks, preferably in the shade or in an air-conditioned area.
- Work, exercise, or play sports in shaded areas.
- If you jog or cycle avoid busy streets, especially during rush hour.
Step 3: Know when and how to help those in need
Stop exercising and seek medical help if you have any of the symptoms of heat-related illness:
- difficulty breathing
- weakness or fainting
- feeling more tired than usual
To help someone with heat-related illness:
- call for medical help
- remove excess clothing from the person
- apply cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing
- move them to a cooler place
- give them sips of cool water (not ice water)
- fan the person
If you become ill, feel faint, have difficulty breathing, or feel confused and disoriented, seek medical help immediately. In an emergency, call 911.
This item was last modified on September 3, 2020