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Evidence Base for Sport

Heat Illness in Sport and Exercise

Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Updated by: Liz Murphy, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Evaluated by: Dr Chris Abbiss, Associate Professor, School of Exercise and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University (January 2018)
Last updated: 20 May 2021
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Australia is synonymous with summer and sport. When these two extremes, hot environmental conditions and vigorous exercise, are combined it can produce a health and safety risk to athletes, officials, and spectators.

This topic provides information for all, so that participation in sport and exercise in hot conditions can be done in a safe manner. This information is intended to increase awareness of the risk to health and performance, and guide practice so that heat-related illnesses can be avoided.

Key messages


Exertional or exercise induced heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia—a condition where the normal internal core temperature of the human body (generally 37°C) is elevated by as little as 2 to 3°C (39°C to 40°C) or higher.


Although the incidence of exertional heat stroke is rare, sporting bodies and event organisers are encouraged to understand the risk factors and have a clear policy regarding the risk of heat illness during competition and other sport participation.

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