Hot weather fitness mistakes we're all making

·6-min read
Woman running in hot weather. (Getty Images)
Running at lunchtime in peak hot weather can be a mistake. (Getty Images)

Whether you hate or loathe the hot weather – with highs of 34C today – it's safe to say the sun has truly got its hat on in the UK.

But as the heat rises our resolve to keep up our exercise regime starts to waver, with many of us not fancying a workout in the sweltering heat.

“High temperatures can make even the most determined fitness guru hesitant to work out, with many unsure of if it is even healthy to do so,” explains PT Jason Briggs at Shoe Hero.

But the sunshine doesn’t always have to interfere with your fitness regime.

Sure, the thought of making yourself sweatier than strictly necessary might seem like utter madness, but do you really want the heat to scupper your fitness goals?

The truth is there are ways to keep exercising when your melting, as long as you’re super smart and safe about it.

Read more: UK weather: What happens to your body when it gets too hot?

“Providing that precautionary measures are adopted and various adaptations made, you don’t have to press pause on your workout,” Briggs adds.

So, whenever the hot weather strikes, we just need to sidestep some of those classic summer workout mistakes we’re all making.

Not warming up

Woman working out. (Getty Images)
Just because the sun's out, doesn't mean you don't need to warm up. (Getty Images)

The hot weather means you’re already warm, so why would you need to warm up, right? Wrong.

“Your body might be hot and your muscles warm but you still need to warm up in order to get your muscles ready for strained movement and to reduce post-workout soreness,” explains David Wiener, Training Specialist at fitness app Freeletics.

“Without warming up, you not only risk injury but you also get less from your workout.”

Not drinking enough water

Man drinking water. (Getty Images)
Don't forget that water bottle – and fill it all the way to the top. (Getty Images)

When you’re in the gym, you know how important it is to chug the water. Your machines even have handy holders to remind you. But, when the temperature rises and you want to take your workout outside, it’s easier to skip the H2O.

Another common water mistake is waiting until you feel thirsty before drinking. But waiting until you feel the thirst first is a bad idea because it means your body is already dehydrated by that time.

And dehydration is bad news!

“Guidelines state that you should be drinking between 6-8 glasses of water each day, which equates to around 2 litres,” explains Wiener.

“In the summer months, try to up this to around ten glasses to ensure you’re properly fuelling your body, especially if you’re working out.”

If you’re doing moderate exercise for less than an hour, Wiener says water should be fine to ensure you do not become dehydrated.

“But anything more intense will require an isotonic sports drinks to guarantee you’re replenishing your body properly. It’s also a good idea to carry a cloth which you can dampen to cool your head and neck.”

Read more: How to stay safe in hot weather: Top tips to avoid heatstroke this summer

Working out at the wrong time

Woman running in hottest time of day. (Getty Images)
The hottest time of the day is not your friend. (Getty Images)

While it’s tempting to stick to your usual run round the park at lunch time, exercising at this time is not recommended because it will likely be the hottest time of the day.

This might not only affect your performance and cause cramps, but it might also lead to a heatstroke.

“Do not run or exercise outside at lunchtime throughout the summer months,” advises Briggs. “Chances are, it is the hottest time of the day and you run the risk of experiencing heatstroke.”

Instead, he suggests working out in the mornings or evenings and avoiding the period between 10 am till 4 pm.

Not wearing the right gear

Man climbing steps in workout gear. (Getty Images)
Avoid dark colours when working out in heat. (Getty Images)

If you’re planning on exercising in the heat, you’ll need to switch up your workout wardrobe.

“Dark clothing absorbs heat and therefore means that you will feel the heat quickly,” explains Briggs.

Instead he recommends choosing fitness wear that is loose fitting, light in colour and breathable.

Not only will this type of clothing help you stay cooler during your workout, but they can help you avoid the skin irritation and heat rashes that can result from extra-sweaty training sessions.

Read more: Why you shouldn't sleep naked during a heatwave

Not switching up your workout

“In the heat of the summer, be mindful of the kinds of exercises you do,” advises Wiener.

“Try swapping your long run for intense interval training, but again make sure you are training at the coolest times of day. This kind of circuit training is quick and effective, also leaving you feeling energised to tackle the day ahead.”

Not slapping on the SPF

You might be in the habit of putting on SPF on your face, but did you remember to put it on your exposed body parts before an outdoor workout?

“Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to cool itself,” explains Briggs. “This means that the rate in which your body becomes dehydrated is increased and can be dangerous, especially when working out."

“Wearing SPF is a non-negotiable and should be just as much of a priority as drinking lots of water,” he adds.

Going too hard

Now is not the time to be attempting a personal best, warns Wiener.

“Exercising in the hot weather puts an extra strain on the body, so it’s important to know your limits, and pay close attention to your body and what it needs,” he says.

“If at any time you feel lightheaded, it’s best to stop training or significantly reduce the intensity until you’re feeling better. It’s also really important to remember that the heat will affect your workout, so don’t push yourself too hard, and take regular breaks so that your body can cool down and you can take on water.”

Choosing the wrong post-workout snack

In warmer temps, salt depletion can contribute to heat exhaustion, especially when we rehydrate but don't replace the salt lost through sweat, Peggy Hall, a nutritional therapist and wellness expert told Shape.

"Sodium and potassium are the main minerals that make up electrolytes, which regulate fluid balance. We lose electrolytes when we sweat, so they need to be replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods rich in these minerals," she says.

In the hot weather, you can replace any sodium lost by drinking the occasional sports drink when you train or turning to salty snacks post-workout.

So, if you're keen to keep fit in the summer, you can. But don't skimp on safety.

Watch: Londoners bask in hot weather as temperatures reach 29C across capital