The long-awaited British summer has finally arrived with what seems to be a never-ending heatwave and the complaints are rolling in – especially from athletes and daily joggers. Sitting in the heat can be exhausting enough, but running in the heat… well, that’s another story.
This can be extremely dangerous if anything, but it doesn’t mean you should restrict your workouts or cut them out completely and reach for the ice-cream.
Why can the heat be dangerous while exercising?
There is a reason that we yawn frequently on a sunny day, or why moving can become a choir and even standing up makes us dizzy. When we recognise that it’s hot, without even being hot ourselves, the brains is already sending signals around the body to conserve our energy. Our blood leaves the muscles and circulates around the skin to cool itself down and in turn, slows the body down causing us to become tired. As we begin to workout, this reaction increases and then moving becomes very challenging – especially in ‘perceived heat’.
Naturally, the body will begin to sweat which will inturn evaporate, taking some heat with it to cool the body down. But, perceived heat is when the weather is hot AND humid. The sweat can’t even be evaporated since humidity is already a water vapour and so your body temperature proceeds to increase.
Although the heat can put your body through large amounts of stress, do not be discouraged because there are plenty of ways to exercise outside this summer whilst staying safe.
How can I protect myself when working out in a heatwave?
If you’re running, find routes that you know will have shaded areas. I recommend any woodlands or forests rather than streets paths and open parks. Direct sunlight will tire you out instantly.
Wear the right clothes
Try to wear light or bright colours. These items with reflect the sunlight for you and regulate the amount of heat that gets in, unlike dark colours. Invest in some loose and breathable tops to allow in a breeze. This will contribute towards lowering your core temperature, alongside high tech gear, equipped to exert the heat outwards. It’s vital to always wear a hat to protect your head from heat stroke and waterproof sunscreen too.
I recently reviewed the Gymshark Vital Seamless T-Shirt and loved it – it both keeps you cool and warm when you need it, doesn’t highlight your sweat patches (which you’re 100% going to have in this heat) and comes in some fantastic colours.
Avoid certain times of the day
Don’t run in the middle of the day. Just don’t do that to yourself. Avoid running outdoors between 12pm and 3pm. the hottest point of the day. The early bird catches the worm and the coolest part of the day, aim to start your outdoor workout between 6am and 9am.
You’re sweating more to lower your body temperature, so remember to counterbalance the fluids you’re losing by drinking water regularly! Drinking a sports drink between 15-30 minutes before your workout is recommended to stay hydrated and rejuvenate boost your electrolytes. Make sure to take a water bottle on your jog or run too to stay hydrated throughout.
It’s advised to avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks, these liquids will only dehydrate you further. Instead rely on water or fruit juices.
If you’re planning something a little more endurance-related, Andy recently undertook his first Olympic Triathlon in the current heatwave and gave us his tips on what to eat and drink. Read his tips on ‘Everything you need to know for taking part in your first triathlon‘.
Don’t stay in, but slow down
Pace yourself and take regular breaks. Resting may be damaging to your average time or speed, but there is little hope in achieving a new personal best in this heat.
New to regular work outs
Take frequent breaks and run at your own pace. If you are running with friends or a group, don’t feel as though you have to match them or keep up. Know your limits. Stay safe.
What are the best workouts to do during the heatwave?
Your tolerance to the heat can rise as long as you continue to train outside. The body begins to adapt to the hot weather by finding ways to control body heat. If you persist with exercising in the sunshine, you will be giving yourself an advantage as an athlete and struggling in the heat will slowly decline within 2 weeks (who’d have thought the heatwave would’ve lasted this long already?!) – so keep going and try some of these outdoor workouts:
- Cycling will give yourself a regular breeze and cool you down
- Swimming in cold water will lower your body temperature
- Split up your regular workouts. Why not do half in the morning and half at night?
- Shorter runs
- Quick-bursts workouts. 15 minutes per workout won’t keep you in the sun for long and will increase your heart rate enough to keep burning calories for up to 48 hours
Make sure to stop if you’re struggling or feel dizzy, and if all else fails then don’t be afraid to take your workout indoors. You can’t be a nicely air-conditioned gym when the heat outside is intense.
There’s plenty of ways to stay active in this heatwave. Use these tips as a guide and stay safe this summer!