With UK temperatures set to soar this summer due to another heatwave, we’ve consulted the fitness experts to help you protect your performance and body and learn how to exercise safely in hot weather…
What’s the best way to exercise safely in hot weather?
‘When it starts to get hot, do a shorter and slower workout, then your body will slowly begin to adapt by increasing its sweating capacity and reducing the electrolyte concentration of the sweat to boost your ability to maintain a safe core body temperature.
‘Swap your long run for interval training or circuit training. This type of training will allow you more rest, so that your body can cool down and you can take on extra water. If possible, try to work out in shaded areas, which will offer you more protection from the sun.
‘Listen to your body. If you start to feel extremely tired, lightheaded, disorientated or nauseous, you should stop exercising, grab some water and find somewhere cool to sit.’ – David Wiener, training specialist at AI-based fitness app Freeletics
How will the UK heatwave affect my performance?
‘When exercising in a hot climate your body has to work a lot harder, so you will instantly feel that exercise is a lot tougher – this isn’t a time when you’re likely to clock a personal best.
‘Your heart has to beat faster as it sends more blood to your skin. Your body temperature will raise much faster, which is why feeling dizzy and faint can occur. In short, it will feel far more difficult to exercise in the heat, especially if you are a beginner. The key is to do sessions at a more manageable pace, and do drink plenty of water.’ – Kira Mahal, personal trainer at MotivatePT
Should I drink more when exercising in the heatwave?
‘It’s extremely important to drink more water when you are exercising in hot weather. When the human body is exposed to hotter than average conditions it challenges the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. This can lead to a multitude of problems, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
‘When exercising in the heat, you tend to sweat more, which leads to you losing more bodily fluid than usual. Staying hydrated is vital as it replaces the bodily fluids you have lost and allows the body to regulate its internal temperature, as well as deliver nutrients to cells and keep organs functioning properly.
‘Hydration can come from a variety of drinks and foods, but water is a great calorie- and sugar-free option to
ensure you stay hydrated. Mineral water is a great choice when choosing how to stay hydrated, as it contains electrolytes, which are minerals such as calcium, magnesium and sodium.’ – Hydration experts at Aqua Pura
What should I wear when exercising in the heat?
‘Always opt for sweat-wicking clothing to stay dry and reduce the chance of chafing. Avoid cotton clothing, as it holds onto moisture and won’t make you feel your best.
‘Try to wear light colours that reflect the sunlight instead of absorbing it. If you’re wearing a vest and shorts, make sure you wear sunscreen to avoid damaging your skin, even if you’re working out in the morning or late evening. For more protection, wear a hat or visor to keep the sun off your face.
‘It is also important to stay hydrated. You can use a normal water bottle but, if you’re running, you might consider freeing your hands up by using a hydration pack.’ – Kiera Baxter, marketing executive and adventurer at Blacks
What sunscreen is best for outdoor exercise?
‘It’s important to wear sunscreen during your outdoor workouts to protect your skin. Sunburn not only increases your skin cancer risk, but it can also affect your body’s ability to cool down. Apply a high-factor SPF sunscreen liberally 20 to 30 minutes before exercising in the heat. Make sure you choose a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection.’ – Dr Samuel Menon, lead GP at digital healthcare provider Livi
How should I approach exercising in the heat?
‘When it’s really hot, exercise in the morning or evening to avoid the midday heat. If possible, choose shady areas and take time to rest, hydrate and cool down.
‘The heat will affect your workout, so it’s important to listen to your body. It may take a few weeks for your body to acclimatise to the heat, so start slowly with shorter and less intense workouts. As you get used to the heat, you may respond better to it – your body may start sweating earlier to help you cool down and, over time, your heartrate may not rise quite as high.’ – Dr Menon
Additional words: Sarah Sellens | Images: Shutterstock