How to exercise safely in the heat
This kind of weather is a rarity for us Brits and we naturally want to make the most of it.
If this weather has encouraged you to exercise outdoors, or if you already do just that, then follow these tips to stay safe. Exercising in the heat can improve your fitness level by challenging your body and mind but we also want you to avoid the enemy – heat stroke!
Hot, humid weather increases the amount you sweat and the amount of fluid you lose. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue and can be life threatening. It should be taken seriously. You will need to increase the level of water consumption in the heat even if you are not exercising. Experts recommend drinking 17 to 20oz of water 2 to 3 hours before exercising, followed by another 8oz during your warm-up. Consume another 7 to 10oz for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise, and then 8oz about 30 minutes after your workout.
- Regardless of the weather or type of exercise you must warm-up and cool-down. This helps to elevate the heart rate and keep muscles warm and flexible to prevent injury. Your warm up or down could just be a light stretching, 5 minute jog, slow swim, jumping jacks, lunges etc.
- Most of us are not used to sudden temperature hikes when it comes to training. Especially if you are not used to training outside. Start slowly and break up your exercise into several smaller chunks. You could even do half of your run in the morning and the other half in the evening – great if you have a busy life!
- Your workout attire can play a huge part in helping to absorb moisture and preventing sweat sticking to your skin too much. Try clothing that is light, breathable, soft and repeals odours such as synthetic-based fibres, nylon and polypropylene. Shop around to get the best deals when it comes to workout clothing.
- Look for shaded areas and try and contain most of your exercise in these areas. If this is not always possible then factor in some breaks.
- If you do struggle with the heat then swap your exercise outside for something inside such as aerobics or swimming. The benefits of swimming are endless as it keeps your heart rate up while taking stress off your body.
- If you think going for a run at 6am means you don’t need to wear sun cream then think again. Sunscreen is critical for keeping your skin safe while you exercise outdoors. Always go for a sunscreen between 30 and 50 for optimal coverage, and as you will probably sweat apply this liberally.
- The heat may be curbing your appetite but it is even more essential to fuel up when exercising outside. Try fresh fruits such as watermelon or pineapple, which although a lighter option, contain a huge amount of nutrients and help hydrate the body.
- Understand your heart rate. The heart beats faster for every degree the body’s internal temperature rises. Look into using a heart monitor which will help you to understand how your body responds to heat. Always make sure you fully understand how your monitor works and what the numbers mean.
- Exercising with someone is a great idea in this heat. Not only does it give you some company and motivation but they may also recognise signs of heat exhaustion before you do.
Finally know your limits! Do not push yourself too much. The consequences of doing so far out-weigh the consequences of pushing yourself too much.