It’s been quite hot the last week and this week it’s set to get hotter with weather warmings and the like. So let’s talk training in heat.
Now schools are being advised to consider letting kids run about in the sun, closing early and so on, but children are more susceptible to struggling in the heat so as adults we really don’t need to avoid training during hot weather. If you’re fit and healthy enough to train anyway the heat, whilst uncomfortable, isn’t going to suddenly make training ridiculously dangerous.
There are of course things you can do to be sensible and look after yourself, ensure you don’t overheat, avoid heat stroke, don’t get dehydrated and quite frankly make training more pleasant.
You might like to train earlier or later in the day when it’s cooler or even switch outdoor sessions to indoor where you can enjoy air conditioning making things a bit cooler. If you are outdoors running or cycling wearing lighter colours, kit with tech that helps absorb sweat might help, and of course make sure you’ve plenty of suncream on.
Hydration is key at anytime but particularly when it’s hot making sure you drink plenty of water is going to be key when exercising (and not exercising folks) to counteract any increased risk of dehydration.
You may want to moderate your expectations for sessions – if the heat affects your energy levels, accepting that you may need to reduce intensity a bit or take a few more or longer breaks will help you complete a session without being annoyed with yourself. To be fair, nows a great time to start learning this lesson if it’s something you struggle with. Our bodies will at various times just have a little less to give, and on those days, whether you be tired, hot, run down or stressed, adjusting your effort levels and intensity and accepting that some days feel better than others can be a key step to training without being yourself up.
But beyond being mindful that it might be wise to take a few precautions when you aren’t used to the heat we don’t need to avoid training or going to the gym.
In fact, for generally healthy people, it’s been shown that training in hot conditions can actually be beneficial to your fitness.
Whilst it might feel harder to train in heat training in the warm weather encourages your body to sweat more (keeping you cool), increases your blood-plasma volume (benefiting cardiovascular fitness), and lowers your core body temperature. These things are all beneficial to helping you perform better in any weather.
When you add heat to exercise, you increases the stress load on your body. This stress can play a role in current and future performance. For example, as a runner you might find you have an easier time at a race if your body is already used to adapting to and training through different conditions. More than that there can be mental benefits to training in heat, from an increased sense of achievement of getting through a tough session and also feeling more capable of getting through future challenging workouts.
So the upshot is if you would normally train don’t let the upcoming weather put you off, just take some precautions to look after yourself and stay safe.