We recently experienced quite a heat wave across the country. How does this affect you if you train regularly or are ‘back on’ your fitness regime?
Here are my top 5 tips for training safely and effectively in hotter weather:
- Pick your time
Typically the temperature peaks around midday so time your workout to take advantage of cooler temperatures in the early morning or in the evening.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Whatever sport or training you are doing, ensure you have sufficient water to keep you hydrated throughout. When the weather is hotter, you are likely to sweat more – your body needs this fluid replacing to keep you healthy.
Heat exhaustion is no laughing matter and ensuring you take on plenty of fluids during and after your session is an essential measure.
- Remember to warm up and cool down
Some think that because they feel warm, they don’t need to bother with a warm up – not the case! Taking the time to warm up allows your body temperature to rise gradually; rather than encountering a more dangerous sudden spike in body temperature that can affect your performance and make you feel pretty awful.
Also ensure you have allowed enough time to gradually bring down your intensity towards the end of your session – letting that heart rate steadily reduce and starting to bring that body temperature back down again.
- How long and hard should you train?
Accept the fact that you are unlikely to be able to perform/train to the same level or intensity when it is super hot – your body’s inbuilt safety mechanisms actually stop you….to prevent you from overheating.
So when it is hotter, consider reducing the intensity (how hard/fast/far/heavy you train) and/or how long you train for. Your main training session may automatically need to reduce to fit in an effective cool down element, as mentioned above anyway – but mentally, prepare for the fact that you are going to be exercising for a shorter period of time.
In periods of high temperatures, training smart and effectively will yield far better outcomes than hitting it hard.
Some people may think that they’ll “lose more weight” by training hard when it’s hot as they sweat more. Yes, you will sweat more and so on the face of it, your weight reduction from the beginning to the end of a session will be greater when it’s hotter. However, this is simply water weight. It’s worth knowing that elite athletes use this weight difference to identify how much fluid they need to take on board after their event. You could do the same. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! (Yes I know I’ve already mentioned that, but it’s really important!)
- Choose your clothing carefully
Think less about aesthetics and more about functionality when it comes to your training wardrobe. Breathable fabrics for exercise wear are widely available now and I really believe it’s worthwhile spending that little bit extra for these materials, particularly as they wick away the sweat allowing your body to regulate your body temperature more effectively.
Likewise, be sun aware if you are training outside. There are huge health benefits to be gained from getting your dose of Vitamin D direct from the sun…don’t outweigh those benefits by getting sunburned or overheating.
- Listen to your body
I know I said 5 points but this key item should always underpin all of your training sessions. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you are feeling fatigued, light-headed, nauseous, disorientated and/or you stop sweating, chances are you are already starting to suffer from heat illness. Stop immediately if any of these arise, find somewhere cool and keep rehydrating, seeking assistance if required.
Have fun in the sun and train smart.
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