How to train in the heat

This new year has started on a hot note! The sweltering heat in Gauteng reaches as high as 35°C on some days and is higher in other provinces.

The heat can be a major disadvantage for people who want to exercise or jog, bike or even go for a walk. If you’re not careful, you can suffer from heat-related health problems like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or extreme dehydration, all of which can significantly divert you from your fitness goals.

Luckily, we have some tips to help you exercise safely, even on the hottest summer days.

Stay hydrated with the right fluids

Water is your best friend to stay hydrated on hot days. It’s even better if you add electrolytes to your water. It keeps you hydrated for longer.

Wear light clothing

Light colors are good as they reflect the sun and also help make you more visible to oncoming traffic. Cotton is a lightweight and affordable material that can help you stay dry. If you’re willing to spend a little more, opt for sweat-wicking shirts and shorts to keep the sweat at bay.

Don’t forget the sunscreen

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A woman performing a skin care routine. Image: iStock

Nothing is worse than trying to do a summer workout with a bad sunburn that’s making it hard to move. Stop the burn before it occurs by lathering up with sunscreen. Opt for a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and one that’s waterproof so it won’t come off when you start sweating.

timing is everything

Avoid the hottest part of the day. To avoid intense heat, exercise early in the morning or later in the day. The hottest temperatures occur between 11am and 3pm.

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Pay attention to the weather forecast and be especially careful when it’s hot and muggy. Humidity can affect your body’s ability to cool the skin because sweat cannot evaporate properly.

Water sports can keep you cooler

Woman in a kayak on the river at scenic sunset
Image: iStock

Summer is the perfect time to make water your friend. Try adding an aquatic activity, such as swimming or aqua aerobics, to your workout, especially on hot days. These activities will help you stay fit and healthy while keeping your cool.

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Prefer to run instead? Don’t worry, you can still take part in the water action. The next time you see something that looks like a “rainy day,” choose to run with the rain instead of against it. Running on a rainy day can help you stay cool, and many athletes find these workouts invigorating and refreshing.

The key to running successfully in the rain is preparation. Wear light-colored clothing and make sure all your clothing is waterproof. Avoid walking around cars you may not be able to see. A little rain won’t hurt you, but if you see lightning or hear thunder, get back to safety as soon as possible.

It can also be safe indoors

There’s nothing wrong with working out indoors at your local gym or even at your home. On days with an excessive heat warning, this can be the best decision you can make to stay cool and avoid heat-related injuries while still getting into your workout. If you have air conditioning or fat, it will help you stay cool in the heat.

Listen to your body

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Listen to your body and give yourself a break if you feel dizzy, nauseous or tired. It’s better to take some time off to rest than to overdo your training and get sick or injured and have to stop training altogether.

If the summer heat proves too challenging for high-intensity workouts, break it up into several smaller workouts throughout the day. Take precautions and enjoy a safe summer outdoors!

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