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Keep cool – how to exercise safely in the heat





There are record temperatures raging across Europe as I write this fitness blog, so it seems a relevant moment to talk about how to exercise safely in the heat. This article is largely talking about running but the advice is equally true for any activity you are doing outside when temperatures hit the summer peaks.

Stay hydrated

After reading articles and blogs written by people who have experienced the extremes of the Marathon des Sables (across the Sahara Desert) and the Badwater Ultramarathon (run through Death Valley), it is clear that the most crucial factor to doing exercise safely the heat is staying hydrated and maintaining the body’s levels of electrolytes and salts. While we might not all be undertaking mammoth events such as the two referenced above, it is still well worth bearing in mind that the balance of water and electrolytes is crucial to your body functioning efficiently.

A question of balance

And it is a question of balance: not enough water and you risk light-headedness and nausea. Taken to extremes this can lead to kidney failure. However, take on board too much water and you are likely to suffer the symptoms of hyponatremia – confusion, nausea and muscle cramps.

To stay hydrated, drink a couple of glasses of water before you go out for your exercise. Take a bottle of water with you or, for longer runs or bike rides, take a hydration pack to wear.  

Aim to take a sip of drink every 15 minutes. When you have finished your workout, take a few more glasses of water. Add an electrolyte drink into the mix to make sure you replace those important salts.

What time of day should you exercise?

In order to exercise safely in the heat, think about the time of day you do your training or activity. Early morning is the best time to exercise, as the day tends to warm up. Evening is okay, but in the height of summer, there is still a lot of warmth in the evening.

Certainly avoid the 11am until 3pm section of the day when the sun is at its highest and the temperature at its hottest.

Another potential hazard is sun burn. In order to exercise safely in the heat and sun, make sure you wear sunscreen. Even if it is cloudy, the sun is still capable of doing damage. Use a high protection (30+), water-proof product.

The right clothes to exercise safely in the heat






Think about what you are wearing. Light coloured, cotton material will help the sweat to evaporate and will keep you cooler. High tech material is also designed to keep you cool and help you to exercise safely in the heat.

If possible, plan a route that will take you into shady, tree-covered areas. The temperature will be cooler and you will be protected from the direct glare of the sun.

It is also useful to wear a pair of sunglasses. There are specially designed running shades that will protect your eyes and the delicate skin around the eyes from burning. It is also a useful barrier against dust, pollutants and flying insects.

Above all else, listen to your body. If you begin to feel dizzy, faint or nauseous, then stop immediately. 

If you have concerns about how to exercise safely in the heat, speak to one of the members of staff in the Outlooks Gym. They can advise you on suitable exercise for your level of fitness.