How to stay safe when exercising in hot weather
The warm and sunny weather makes this time of year the perfect time to take your exercise outdoors for runs, walks and bike rides. Circuits and exercise classes often move outside this year and the green spaces of villages, towns and cities see sporadic football pitches springing up as people get active in the sunshine.
Which is all well and good, but as one doctor warns: ‘Exercise stresses the body in a beneficial way,’ says Dr Menon. ‘But aggravating this stress by exercising in the heat, or without proper hydration, puts excessive pressure on our body’s defence mechanisms and can result in heat exhaustion – or worse, heatstroke.’
Dr Menon is lead GP at healthcare provider Livi but his words of warning are echoed by health professionals and fitness instructors across the country.
When you exercise, your demand for oxygen increases – you breathe faster and your heart pumps more blood around your body to aid your muscles. As a result, you produce more heat and your core temperature rises. To regulate the rise in body temperature, our blood vessels dilate, meaning we have a greater surface area to release sweat through. This is the body’s very clever cooling system. But like all systems, if we don’t look after it, it will eventually break.
Simple measures to stay safe in the hot weather
There are some simple measures we can take to ensure we stay safe when exercising in the sun.
The main safety factor is to stay hydrated. As you exercise, you need to drink fluids to replenish what you’ve lost in sweat. Additionally, if you’re exercising for prolonged periods and sweating a lot, you should also replace the salt you’ve lost by drinking a sports or electrolytes drink.
It is also important to protect your skin. Using sun screen not only protects against skin cancer but it also helps your body stay cooler. A sun burnt body struggles to cool down.
When you exercise is important. Try to work out in the early morning or later in the day. You should try and avoid the heat and humidity of the afternoon.
Training for the heat
It is also important to get your body ready for exercise in hot conditions. The heat and humidity will affect your workout, so it’s important to listen to your body. It may take a few weeks for your body to acclimatise to the heat. Start slowly with shorter and less intense workouts. As you get used to the heat, you may find yourself responding better to it. Your body may start sweating earlier to help you cool down, and over time, your heart rate may not rise quite as high during your workouts.
While it is lovely to be exercising in the sunshine, when things get too hot, you will be thankful for the air conditioned gym space at Kelsey Kerridge. Both the Outlooks Gym and the Free Weights Gym offer a cool place to get your exercise while staying relatively cool. Then you can enjoy a rest in the park later!