Precautions to take when working out in the heat
If you've ever run around the block on a hot sunny day, you'll know how tough it can be to exercise in the heat. Exercising in hotter temperatures makes your heart work harder to get oxygen to your muscles and cool down your body, leading to an increased heart rate and a drop in your blood pressure. Humidity, your general fitness level and how accustomed you are to high temperatures will all influence your body´s reaction to the heat and your heart's ability to keep up. With this in mind, it's important to try avoiding the heat when you exercise to avoid the effects of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Check out our tips below to help you stay trek-fit over summer.
An easy way to stay hike-fit over summer is to time your workout to avoid the hottest part of the day. The sun is strongest between 10am and 4pm, so it's best to start your workout in the early hours of the morning, or late hours of the afternoon, thereby avoiding the hottest time of the day. Consider starting even earlier and you'll have the advantage of even cooler temperatures and maybe even a sunrise or two. Alternatively, walking in the late afternoon or evening means you may get to watch the sunset and enjoy the evening breeze, when it's cooler and more refreshing.
One of the biggest dangers during a particularly hot exercise session is dehydration. (read: how to stay hydrated on the trek for more information
). The easiest way to deal with dehydration is to prevent it, so start out your exercise already hydrated: drink some water 15 minutes before you start exercising to give yourself a head start. Taking small, regular sips during the exercise will keep you better hydrated than downing a whole litre bottle of liquid, so make sure to keep a water bottle close to you at all times. It's good to remember to drink BEFORE you get thirsty. Once you can feel the thirst, you are already dehydrated. And finally: drink water. It´s the best way to keep you going and hydrated. If you want to spice it up a bit, just add a couple of orange or lemon slices or some cucumber for extra flavor. Although sports drinks can help you replenish electrolytes you might have lost during the exercise, beware the added sugar.
Wear the right gear
Light colored, breathable clothing will keep you cool and not add extra heat to your body. Wear fabrics designed for sports, such as light cotton, wicking polyester, micro-fibers or ultra-thin wool. The choice of fabric is a personal one - people who perspire a lot may prefer a wicking fabric that absorbs sweat and dries quickly. Others may prefer cotton because it absorbs sweat and stays damp, thereby cooling you down more quickly.
Quality, not quantity
Instead of exercising for one hour once a day, split your exercise up into four smaller, quicker workouts. The key is to make sure you reach your target heart rate and get sweaty. A quick tip on how to stay cool while exercising in hot weather: stay in the shade wherever possible. It might sound obvious, but it can reduce the temperature significantly and make exercising so much more comfortable.
Adjust your exercise regime
If your winter exercise regime is a two hour circuit in the park, it's likely you will need to adjust your workout and exercise style for the warmer temperatures. Why not try different sports that will automatically keep you cool while doing them? Surfing, swimming and snorkeling are great candidates here, as you are still giving yourself a cardio workout, while reducing your likelihood of overheating thanks to the water. If your hobby is rock climbing, consider deep water soloing (meaning: climbing above water deep enough for you to not hurt yourself when you fall into it) - another great option that will keep you refreshed when you have the occasional cold fall. Another great option for the summer is cycling. Creating your own breeze as you pedal will keep you cool as you increase your speed and fitness levels.
Take it indoors
Why expose yourself to the heat outside when indoor options can deliver similar benefits with much more comfort? Take your workout to places with natural cooling or air conditioning like the gym and the heat won´t be a problem anymore. Another option is to try out indoor rock climbing or group classes such as salsa or capoeira classes. Not only do they provide a cooler environment , but they often come with an open minded community and lots and lots of fun!
Make it about the journey, not the destination
Leave the car at home the next time you visit a friend and just walk or bike to your destination. It´ll save you from having to schedule your workout and become a part of your daily life quicker than you might think. Additionally, if your journey ends at the pool or the beach, there´s a cool bath already waiting for you there!
Having company while exercising can give you that little extra boost to make it through the workout and it might even allow you to take your friendship to the next level through sharing new experiences and growing together, as a team. If your friends are not as excited at the prospect of exercising throughout the summer, you can check the internet or newspaper for community-sponsored events in your area. You will not only have company, but also might be able to try out new sports and meet some like-minded people along the way!
Our bodies are incredibly versatile and able to adapt to a lot of different situations and climates. This is why it's possible to train your body to get used to hotter temperatures. If you train regularly and expose your body to heat, your body will increase the volume of your blood, making it easier on your heart to pump more blood around. This will help increase blood flow and reduce your core temperature and improve your ability to exercise in hot conditions . You will also start sweating more during a workout, which will keep you cooler, while your body will lower the amount of salt and minerals in your sweat. This will lead to you losing less electrolytes through sweating. To accomplish this, start working out for 10-20 minutes in the mid-morning or afternoon heat and increase the duration of your workout by a few minutes each day.
Know when to stop
Last, but not least, listen to your body and know when to stop the workout. If, at any point of the exercise, you feel like your body temperature is rising too quickly and you are feeling faint, you should stop and cool down. You might want to consult a doctor if this happens regularly.