How to exercise in hot weather
Whether you’re jetting off to a warm country or getting fit for the summer, training in the heat requires a little more preparation than usual. To train in hot weather, you need to make sure you’re looking after your body and dressed to perform at your best. Most importantly, you don't want to burnout. So, here’s everything you need to know about exercising in the heat.
Is it safe to exercise in hot weather?
Exercising in hot weather is safe – so long as you take the relevant precautions. Working out in higher temperatures than you’re used to can put a lot of stress on your body as it races to keep up. We sweat more, our body overheats quicker and, if it’s sunny, our skin is at risk of burning.
As the days get hotter, your body must work especially hard to keep cool. To do this, it circulates more blood around your skin, resulting in less blood to the muscles, which then increases your heart rate. After a while, you may end up experiencing nausea, weakness, headaches, or fainting. Particularly in humid conditions, your body temperature keeps rising as it struggles to deal with the sweat that doesn’t easily evaporate from your skin.
So, what can you do to make sure you’re effectively and safely exercising in the heat?
Tips for exercising in the heat
You'll want to pay extra attention to these sensible habits when you go out to exercise in warm weather:
Even when you’re not exercising, staying hydrated in hot weather is important. But when you are out there pushing for marginal gains, keeping on top of water intake is imperative. The hotter your body gets, the more you sweat and lose fluid inside your body. Replenishing those fluids is necessary to function properly and maintain performance levels in sports.
Water is adequate in most cases, but if you’re doing intense exercise for a relatively long period in heat, try a sports energy drink to boost your carbohydrate and electrolyte intake. This will supply you with the extra fuel and minerals to help prevent the dangers that follow dehydration.
Wear lightweight, breathable clothing
Obviously, when hot weather strikes, you can put away your thick running jackets. Instead, make sure your clothes are both lightweight and breathable. That includes moisture wicking training tops and shorts to stop your body from overheating. Fast-drying, lightweight long sleeve tops and leggings are also a great option to make sure there is enough circulation between your body and the clothing.
Sun cream and SPF protection
While having the right training gear is important, don’t forget to also protect your skin. If you’re training in direct sunlight, apply a generous amount of sun cream with SPF protection. This will prevent any sunburn, which is incredibly damaging to your skin and could put you out of action for a few days.
Know your limits
As with regular training, when working out in hot weather, know your limits. You may not be able to train for as long or at the same intensity and that’s okay. Recognise when your body is getting overheated or tired and take a break. As any athlete or gymgoer knows, the time spent off from injury is far longer than the time spent listening to your body’s needs. During a workout, move into shady areas or air-conditioned indoor spaces to enjoy a brief reprieve from the heat.
Benefits of warm weather training
While training in warm weather may be different from what you’re used to, there are a plethora of great benefits. Based on several science experiments, researchers found that working through heat can improve your overall performance by 7% compared to the typical temperatures you’re used to. They also identified a few numbers to keep in mind:
- 3: The Celsius your core body temperature should be during training sessions.
- 60: The number of minutes to keep your core body temperature at 101 Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius) to feel the heat acclimation benefits.
- 5-10: The number of days to train in the heat to truly acclimate.
Plus, heat training can also increase Vo2 max to give you more endurance in warmer conditions while simultaneously making athletes better at withstanding a wider range of temperatures and environments.
How to stay cool while exercising in hot weather
If you find yourself overheating while exercising, it’s important that you stop and start to cool yourself down. Some of the common signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Increased heart rate (higher than normal for your activity)
- Muscle cramps
If you notice any of these symptoms, you must immediately work on lowering your body temperature. If possible, make sure someone is with you to monitor in case things escalate. Use cool, wet towels on your neck, forehead and under your arms and drink water or other fluids, like sports drinks, to rehydrate.
To avoid heat exhaustion and remain cool while exercising in hot weather, remember that prevention is key.
What to wear when exercising in hot weather
Besides wearing shorts and t-shirts, what else should you wear when exercising in hot weather?
Amateur or athlete, your sportswear should be made from unique performance fabrics. Our motivation to participate and hit new personal bests comes from a commitment to marginal gains. And clothes without quick-drying and moisture wicking qualities tend to cause discomfort and other problems that hold you back. Cheaper cotton t-shirts, for example, trap sweat and heat making it difficult for you to regulate your body temperature. That's why premium sportswear garments are a worthy investment, and this is especially true for summer.
When exercising in the heat, accessories are key. Make you’ve got a cap to protect your head and face from burning if you’re in the sun. You’ll also need water bottles on hand and a microfiber towel to wipe down your face and any equipment.