First and foremost the best way to approach exercising in the heat is to be sensible! Wear cool and light clothing (avoid dark clothing as this absorbs heat), make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day, and exercise during the cooler times of the day (early morning or early evening). Wear a hat and suncream if you will be outside in the sunshine for a sustained period of time. If you want to get your body acclimatised to warm workouts then build it up over a few days, start with shorter workouts and slowly extend the amount of time you spend in the heat.
So how exactly does heat affect the body?
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body, to cool itself the body sends extra blood to circulate through your skin, which in turn means there is less blood available in your muscles which leads to an increased heart rate. Factor in high humidity, and the sweat on your skin doesn't evaporate, this pushes the body temperature even higher.
If you are exposed to high heat for a sustained period of time with low hydration, the bodies natural cooling system may fail, this can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke!
Here are some warning signs to look out for whilst exercising in the heat:
- Muscle cramps
- visual problems
- excessive sweating
- nausea and vomiting
A great way to cool yourself down is by using wet towels or ice packs on your neck, underarms and forehead, whilst drinking fluids. Sitting in a cold bath can also be a great way to lower the bodies temperature. In cases of heatstroke you should see a doctor straight away.
Stay safe in the sun Gym Freaks, and most importanty listen to your body!