Physical fitness may help keep you from harm at sports and other outdoor events

Hendri Lups in Photo by Denese from Phototalk

As South Africans we have the luxury of being able to partake in most outdoor sports whether it is cycling or running on the road or off road, a variety of marathons or swimming activities and combinations of all of the above.

Many people train year round to be able to meet their goals in achieving their best at these events. Others act on a whim and join in these strenuous activities, whether they have trained and are fit enough or not. In either of the cases, it is essential to know the limitations of your body and how far you are able to push yourself.

Before any race or event make sure that you are taking in the correct nutrition and hydration before the day of the event. If you have been specifically training for an event, ensure that you know what is required and give your body the fuel it needs to be able to do its best. Many of the organised events will have specific details on their site or through their call center on how to maintain your fitness and nutrition levels.

During an event, keep well hydrated and change your requirements according to the area and day of the event. For example, if the day of the event is warmer than expected, the level of hydration will need to increase. On a cold day, you need to keep your muscles warm and increase your intake of good nutrition as your muscles will need more fuel to keep going. Fitness experts should be available to give you the right tips on how to optimise your ability to reach your goal.

Once the event has started, listen to your body. It is excellent that you have taken the steps to push your limits in fitness, but if you are of ill health, suffering a chronic or acute medical condition or just generally feeling ‘under the weather’ on the day of the event, it is essential to listen to your body.

Pain and cramping of your muscles may be expected during endurance events. If the pain increases above what would be expected to be normal, or becomes unbearable, it is a sign that something may be wrong. Instead of pushing through, rather seek medical attention as irreparable damage could be done if the exertion is too severe.

Any form of chest pain or severe difficulty in breathing could indicate a sign of an impending serious medical condition or episode and it is advised that appropriate medical attention is sought immediately.

Athletes are used to pain in the attempt to push at their goals, but abnormal or persistent pain or discomfort during training or exercise may be a sign that your body is not in the right state for these limits to be pushed. It is absolutely advised that these symptoms not be ignored, and rather have medical advice come back with no abnormalities detected, than suffer a severe or even fatal episode during the event.

Vanessa Jackson


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