Most of us are used to hot weather in Australia, but a few consecutive days in the high 30s and 40s can take their toll, and interrupt your exercise and training schedule.
While some studies have shown that training in hot weather can improve your performance (providing the right precautions are taken), you need to take care out there.
You might be preparing for an active event in a warmer location though, and so might welcome the hot weather. You should still prepare safely though.
Basically, exercising in hot weather puts additional stress on your body.
Activity and high temperatures increase your core body temperature. To try and cool down, your body sends out more blood to circulate through your skin. This means less blood for your muscles, which then increases your heart rate.
High humidity as well as heat puts even more stress on the body. Sweat is your body’s primary cooling mechanism, but if humidity is high, the sweat doesn’t evaporate from your skin as easily, which further increases your core body temperature.
If you don’t want the weather to get in the way of your training, check out these tips for how to exercise safely in hot weather.
How to exercise safely in hot weather
Remember, sweat is our body’s in-built cooling mechanism, so dress to sweat. Avoid cotton t-shirts and anything that holds onto sweat.
Opt for fabrics that soak sweat from the skin, such as Adidas ClimaCool (most sports clothing brands have their own name for this type of fabric), and wear light colours to reflect the sun.
Protect yourself from the sun
Seems obvious, but do remember to wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses etc, and/or find somewhere that you can train in the shade.
Interestingly, a sunburn actually decreases your body’s ability to cool itself. Another good reason to protect your skin!
Give yourself time to get used to the hot weather and training in it. We’re not talking minutes or hours, but days. You might need to do a few shorter sessions on the first few hot days, and then build up to longer sessions over the coming hot days and weeks as your body learns to adjust.
Train early or late in the day
It’s generally a bit cooler early in the morning and later in the evening, so plan your exercise for these times, even if you have to get up a bit early.
Avoid being to active in the middle of the day when it tends to be hottest (11am – 3pm ish).
It might sound silly to talk about warming up for a training session in hot weather, but it’s another mini way to help your body acclimatise.
Prepare for your run or training session with a walk and dynamic stretches to slowly lift the heart rate and become accustomed to the heat before you pick up the pace.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Hydration is always important when exercising (and living, in general), but it’s extra important during the hot weather. You need to drink more than usual to help combat the extra sweat etc. Here’s a general guide:
- Before exercise: Drink 1-2 cups of water 2 hours before exercising, and 1/2-1 cup immediately before.
- During exercise: Drink 1/2-1 cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise in hot conditions. You stomach will adjust.
- After exercise: Replace any fluid you have lost. A rough guide is 2 cups for every 0.5kg of body weight lost during exercise.
You may want to supplement your hydration with electrolyte and sodium-based drinks as well as water.
As mentioned above, your body won’t experience the evaporative cooling effect of sweat when the weather is both hot and humid.So take extra precautions or consider exercising indoors on these days.
You might be an avid outdoors exerciser, but sometimes you may need to give in and exercise indoors for your own health.
Make use of your own treadmill or wind trainer for cyclists, or visit the gym.
You could even cross train or swap for a swim set at the pool. If it’s uncovered, remember to use sunscreen etc.
Even if you’re training indoors, you still need to be conscious of your hydration and how your body feels.
Take it easy
Try to back off a bit when it’s hot. Don’t go as far or as fast. Remember, your body is already under extra stress because of the heat, so it’s already contributing to a higher heart rate.
Make the most of the opportunity for some easier sessions, then pick up the tempo when the temperature falls.
Listen to your body
It’s extra important to listen to how your body is feeling when you’re putting it under extra stress.
If you’re feeling tired or too hot, slow down or stop. At least you got out there in the first place!
And if you feel unwell, dizzy, faint, nauseated, are experiencing cramping etc STOP! And see a doctor if necessary.
Just as warming up is important, so is cooling down. Once you’ve finished your work out, don’t just stop. Keep your head above your heart, and walk around slowly until your heart rate decreases.
So take care of yourselves out there!