Those long-predicted heatwaves have finally arrived and temperatures have been soaring, but what does this mean for your exercise regime?
If you’re tempted to ditch the workouts and head to the nearest beer garden or park instead – or just flop on the sofa with a fan on full blast – we don’t blame you!
But if you are keen to keep active, it’s wise to consider how the heat might affect things, and what adjustments you could make in order to stay as comfortable and safe as possible…
1. Exercise early in the morning
It tends to be a lot cooler early or late in the day. Omar Mansour, fitness coach and ambassador for audio fitness app WithU, says: “The heat can be really difficult to deal with, so switching your schedule around and making time for your workout in the morning is a good idea.
“Whether it’s getting outside before the heat gets into the day, or getting into the gym ahead of the heat and the rush, avoiding workouts in higher temperatures can keep you comfortable, but on track.”
2. Do a home workout
Steered away from home workouts now pandemic restrictions have lifted? When it’s mega hot outside, exercising in a cool room at home might make sense – plus you can jump straight into a refreshing shower afterward.
“You don’t always have to go to the gym to get your pump on. With increased temperatures and gyms becoming busier, home workouts are a sure-fire way of prioritising your fitness,” says Mansour.
3. Be a hydration hero
Staying hydrated is always important during exercise – but even more so when the sun heats up, when you could be at greater risk of dehydration symptoms, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Keeping hydrated during workouts in the heat will help your body do its job, by sweating in order to keep you cool,” says David Wiener, training specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics.
He suggests thinking about drinking water throughout your workout to “maintain your blood volume levels. This allows you to train and perform better due to the amount of oxygen being pumped around the body.
Tony Goldingay, fitness spokesperson at sweatband.com, says: “You should be aiming to drink around 250ml of water for every 20 minutes you are engaged in active exercise in the heat.
A top tip is to space your hydration out as much as you can, without front-loading all your liquids early on in your workout.”
4. Switch it up
Intense cardio may not always be suitable in the heat, but if you still want the benefits of moving your body – switch things up.
“Working out doesn’t always mean working up a massive sweat, and prioritising your mental health is equally as important as prioritising your physical health,” says Mansour.
“There are a range of workouts, including yoga, stretching, barre and mindfulness, that allow you to prioritise your physical and mental health without overheating.”
5. Take the pressure off
Wiener says it’s OK to make workouts “shorter and slower” when temperatures ramp up. Even with a 15-minute HIIT session, you’ll still be making those gains.
Goldingay agrees, saying: “The heat itself is enough to put an extreme strain on your body, even without you knowing.
This is not the time for you to test any PBs or to try and reach your max reps, it really is a time to know your limits and stay mindful of the subtle signals your body will be giving you.”
6. Go for cooling kit
Fitness clothing needs to be adapted to the time of year – and when the heat is on, it’s all about maximising your ability to stay cool.
Wiener advises opting for “breathable, lightweight and light-coloured workout attire that permits sweat to evaporate”.
This will also help keep skin irritation and heat rashes at bay, he adds. “It’s also vitally important to wear a hat,” says Wiener – and don’t forget to protect your eyes if you’re out in the sun.
7. Call it quits if it gets too much
It really is OK to call it a day early if you need to. As Wiener says: “Be sure to 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.” Speak to your GP if you have concerns about any of these symptoms.
And if you’re outdoors and the sun gets too hot, Goldingay adds: “Call it a day and go inside. You can recharge and head for an air-conditioned gym before heading out into the summer sun afterward, or you can have that cheeky rest day you definitely deserve.”