Heatwave: 7 tips for working out in hot weather
By Luby Chow / 8 Sep 2021
"The UK is currently basking in a mini heatwave, bringing highs of 30°C. What to consider when exercising in the sun? Here are our tips to play safe and have fun."
Summer is a great time to go out and get active. Just because it is hot and humid does not mean you cannot take your training outdoors! Make sure you take the right precautions, workouts in the heat may even give you a boost. Here is everything you need to know to exercise safely in the sun.
Your body sweats to cool you down. Be sure to drink enough fluids regularly and stay hydrated throughout your training. While water is the best option, sports drinks can help you rehydrate more efficiently if you have long workouts. Avoid having caffeine or alcohol drinks because they make you lose more body fluid. Never wait until you feel thirsty, as it can be an early symptom of dehydration. However, drinking too much water can potentially lead to a rare condition called hyponatremia. Moderation is always the key!
Pick the right time
Stay away from the midday sun. Consider early morning or late evening workouts, with cooler air temperature and lower humidity. Exercising in the morning is one of the best ways to get yourself energised throughout the day! If you have to exercise outdoors in the hottest time of the day between 11am and 3pm, try to reduce the time you are exposed to the sun. Divide up your workouts with shorter session times.
Read more: 5 outdoor sports you should try this summer
Make sure you choose the right clothes that fit your body and the exercise. They should feel comfortable and not get in the way of your workout. There are many factors affecting how comfortable your workout clothes are. You would not want to wear workout clothes which are too tight or too loose, although you might need fitted clothing for yoga and Pilates. Pick lightweight, sweat-wicking and breathable fabrics to draw heat away from your body and keep your temperature lower. Avoid cotton as it can feel heavy when it absorbs sweat. Wear light-coloured clothes to allow your body to cool itself effectively. Dark and thick clothes absorb heat and make you feel hotter. Bring your hat to keep your head cool and reduce your chances of overheating.
Why is it important to wear sunscreen in the sun? The most obvious reason is to protect the skin from UV rays. Sunburn can affect your body’s ability to cool down and even increase your risk of getting skin cancer. According to dermatologists, you should apply sunscreen even when it is cloudy, as up to 80% of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the earth. Choose a sunscreen has both UVA and UVB for daily use.
Change the location
During a heatwave, you should consider starting your indoor workout routine. Yoga, for example, might not burn calories as much as running, but it does provide many health benefits, improving your strength and balance, helping you reduce stress and enhance overall sense of well-being. Who knows, it may become your new favourite exercise! Another great way to keep yourself active and cool is to do water sports. Simply head to the beach to swim, or enjoy other fun water activities like surfing, SUP, yachting and kayaking. If you must stick to your outdoor workouts, just plan a route with some shade.
Forget about your personal best! You should accept the fact that you would not perform better than usual during extreme heat. This is because high heat and humidity affect your oxygen delivery and muscle endurance. Adjust your expectations, do not push yourself too hard. Tweak your workout routine by starting with shorter and less intense exercises. Take the time to rest and cool down. When your body adapts to the heat, you may gradually increase the pace of your workout.
Know the warning signs
Safety always comes first when working out. Heat-related illness is serious and can be fatal if not detected and treated properly. Listen to your body and know your limits. Stop immediately when you are experiencing any symptoms of overheating: severe headache, dizziness, rapid breathing, nauseous, and fatigue. Stay safe and enjoy the last days of summer!