Hey guys and happy Friday. I say ‘happy’ Friday but sadly today marks my last day in Crete before heading back to sunny Yorkshire. To celebrate (and commemorate) my last day in the heat I thought I would share some of my top tips for beating to heat whilst training. Summer time is great when it comes to feeling motivated and getting yourself out and moving. However, it does not come without its risks. Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure you’re staying safe and getting the most from your summer outdoor workouts.
Living in the UK I very rarely get the chance to train outside. Usually I am lucky if I miss the rain walking from the carpark into the gym! However, outdoor workouts are really effective and can be super beneficial so I have certainly been making the most of the lovely warm weather here in Crete. Unfortunately, though, it does not take Sherlock Holmes to realise that the summer heat (even the British summer time) and humidity are not always the best pairing for your workout.
Although hotter temperatures can help you warm up faster, which can prevent injuries, it is vital to consider the health risks that come with training outside. If you’re anything like me, chances are you get pretty sweaty at the best of times, but obviously you’re going to sweat even more in hotter temperatures. Sweating is not a bad thing, as mentioned in my previous post on sweat and skin care, but when it gets too hot blood rushes away from your muscles and to the skin to help cool it (hence you’re likely to go red!). This means that there is less blood in your muscles, consequently leading to a lowering of your blood pressure, which can then result in your feeling dizzy, light headed and nauseous. In really extreme cases this can put you at risk of heat stroke and even potentially seizures and heart rhythm problems – makes the pros of warming up faster seem a little less impressive, right?
As we have seen, exercising in hot weather (whether inside or outside) can put a lot of extra stress on your body and can result in serious illness if the proper precautions are not taken. This doesn’t mean to say that as soon as it gets warm you should just burn your gym pass on the BBQ and whip out the strawberries on cream, oh no! (even though I seriously recommend the latter at some point) You will be pleased to know that there are some top tips you can practise to ensure that your workout is safe in the summer months.
Tips to ‘Beat the Heat’
This might seem obvious but speaking from experience, staying hydrated can be easy to overlook. The average individual has a sweating rate of 1 litre per hour when they’re training in hot environments (I dread to think what my sweating rate must be), which is a hell of a lot of water to lose and not replenish. Dehydration from excess sweating can lead to increases plasma tonicity and decreases blood volume. Put simply, these can reduce heat loss which results in an elevated core temperature levels during exercise-heat stress – definitely not what you want!
To avoid this, before you start training make sure you have drank a fair bit of water and ensure that you carry at bottle of water with you at all times. Make sure you’re taking a drink at least every 15 minutes, whether you feel as if you need it or not. By the time you’re feeling thirsty you are already dehydrated so you want to avoid getting to that stage. If I was working with a client who did not have a bottle of water or who was feeling very thirsty I would probably stop the training session!
You should also ensure that you are you replenishing your electrolytes, which will be lost during exercise. Sweating can result in salt depletion, which is a contributing factor to heat exhaustion. Most of us will rehydrate but will forget the replace the salt that we have lost through excess sweating. Make sure you are replacing lost electrolytes with fluids or salty snacks such as olives, salted nuts or sunflower seeds.
Wear The Right Clothes
Something that is easy to neglect, your workout outfit can have a huge impact on your summer training programme. If possible you want to ensure you’re wearing breathable, light and light-coloured clothing. If you’re going to be outside for a long period of time, you might even want to get yourself a hat as well! If in doubt, look for words like ‘breathable’, ‘moisture-wicking’, and ‘mesh’ on the label as these are more likely to keep you cool, dry and comfortable. I would also recommend avoiding grey because, well… we all know grey and sweat are not best buddies.
It is also worth keeping in mind chafing and heat rash. You might be tempted to grab a pair of shorts, however, I tend to find that little shorts can lead to some painful inner thigh chafing. If you have ever experienced this you will know it is definitely something you want to avoid. You can pick up anti-chafing creams and powder deodorants that are meant to help but I have yet to find anything I have found works for me. It’s not just the inner thighs we need to be thinking about – the under arms, rib cage and nipples can suffer as well. You might want to pick up a thin, seamless tank style sports bra if you’re going to be doing longer runs in hot weather.
Protect Your Skin
I know, I know, suncream is gross and probably the last thing you want to put on before you work out but it is so so important. Make sure you’re slathering on the factor 50 before you head out and train and don’t miss any important areas! Research has shown that most of us will forget to protect the lower leg and therefore this is one of the most common places that women develop skin cancer. Other commonly missed areas can include the ears, scalp and the back of your neck and legs so make sure you’re protected.
Time it Right
Something that is easy for us British to forget is timing. You know that phrase ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’? Well, it’s true – we are not sensible with our heat exposure. If the locals are inside, you should be as well and if you’re not the very less you can do is avoid training. You should try and avoid exercising between 10-3 as this is likely to be the hottest part of the day.
You might want a lay in on your holidays, but sadly the best time for training is generally early in the morning. If this isn’t possible, why not mix up the type of training you’re doing. Instead of going for a run in the midday heat, why not take a dip in the pool? Your body will thank you for it.
Listen to Your Body
It’s all well and good giving you all these tips but it is important to remember that sometimes you should just not bother. Even if you practise all of these tips, you might still be at risk of overheating so make sure you are listening to your body and if you feel any symptoms of overheating stop immediately. Heat exhaustion can sneak up on you quickly so try and train with a friend and make sure someone knows where you are at all times. Don’t mean to sound all morbid, but safety first guys!
Sometimes you are simply better off staying indoors and there are lots of factors to take into account including humidity, the type of training and your experience training in hotter and more humid climates. If you’re really unsure, I would say it is safer to stay inside. If you are really desperate to train, you could also use a heat index, which will take into account both heat and humidity. Whatever you decide, make sure your body is safe and protected. Enjoy the weather and take care of yourself.