Many of the residents of the UK experienced something miraculous this week. Heat. Real, consistent heat. We’re not just talking a little sunshine here, but temperatures upwards of 35 degrees celsius in some parts of the country, a real rarity around here. So we dealt with this the best way we can in Britain, putting shorts on, liberally applying suncream and getting on with it. Albeit with regular observations on how warm it is. Even with good old British stubbornness though it can’t be denied that regular tasks were a little more challenging with such unfamiliar temperatures, so what can you do when it comes to exercise? Gyms often have air conditioning so that’s probably a more appealing place to be than ever, but what about those of you that jog, or cycle or exercise at home or in a studio? There are a few easy steps to make sure you can get your work out without suffering too much.
This should go without saying but as with any activity in increased heat drink plenty of water. Make sure you’re staying hydrated all the time. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty either, that feeling is actually a sign of dehydration. Once you’re feeling thirsty you’ve already got some catching up to do. However, try not to gulp down huge amounts of water in one go. This can lead to that water effectively flushing your body of good things like electrolytes as, basically, you’ll need to pee more. Try to take in small amounts of water often. Think of it as keeping the water level of a jug topped up rather than a constant cycle of emptying it completely, then filling it back up.
Build yourself up
Start slow. You can’t expect that if you usually run 3 miles a day in regular temperature you’ll be able to do the same on a sweltering day. Try to cut the duration or intensity of your workout to start with, then build back up from there. If you usually run, maybe reduce that to a jog or a brisk walk. If you cycle for 30 minutes, maybe drop that down to 20 minutes or cover less distance in that time.
Plan the time
If you’re one of these exercising saints who finds the dedication to work out during your lunch break, now may be the time to revise your tactics, or at least choose an indoor venue. The sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm, between these hours it’s best to stay out of the sun entirely never mind exercising! Try to stick to exercising in the morning or evening when it’s a little cooler, and stick to the shadows if at all possible.
Know when to stop
It’s never been more important to know when you’re done. When it’s really warm conditions its better to leave it a little earlier than you usually would than to push on and make yourself ill. Listen to your body and respond to any early signs of heat related illness. These signs can include, muscle cramp, nauseas or vomiting, lightheadedness, weakness and feeling faint. If you start experiencing any of these get out of the sun, sit down and try to rehydrate. It’s better to stop straight away and feel better than pushing past it and probably suffering much more later on.
Much of this is common sense really, but it’s very important to be aware of nonetheless. Fitness is all about taking care of yourself and improving your health. It’s a little counter productive to push yourself too much in the heat and suffer for it. If you really don’t feel great there’s no harm in taking a few days out and remembering, it’s the UK, it probably won’t last that long anyway!