For many gymphobes, getting in a good work out is all about being outdoors in the fresh air, whether you favour a morning run or yoga in the park.
But with one of the warmest summers in years on the cards for the UK, is it really necessary to think about adapting our workouts for the heat?
Short answer: yes.
Just small changes in temperature can mean that even exercises you do everyday can put much more stress on your body, and in worse case scenarios, lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke or serious illness.
Here are some tips for ensuring your workout is heat-friendly when the mercury rises…
Adjust your body temperature before your workout
A recent study found that having a cold shower or an ice bath before your workout can improve your performance in the heat. This is because it lowers your heart rate and cools your core and skin temperature.
Dr. Thijs M H Eijsvogel from Radboud University Medical Center in The Netherlands, who coordinated the study, explained that cooling techniques such as these reduce the amount of energy the body uses to stay cool during exercise.
He explained to Reuters: “More blood will be available for oxygen transportation to the exercising muscles, which enables a better performance.
“Thus less energy and effort is spilled for heat dissipating mechanisms.”
If you don’t fancy dunking yourself in a bath of ice, and ice pack on the neck or a nice refreshing ice slushy before and during your workout can have the same effect.
Check your route before you set off
If you’re heading out for a run it’s probably a good idea to avoid the midday sun.
Aside from problems like heat stroke, running in high temperatures is make your run less effective as your body will be using more energy to stay cool.
If you have no choice in the matter (i.e for those of us who can only squeeze in a run at lunchtime), then it’s a smart idea to check your path before you set off.
Find a shady route, such as through parks, where you’re never too far for some cool grass to lay down on.
Consider taking up yoga for summer
Yoga isn’t for everyone, especially those who prefer hard cardio. But there’s a good reason why there’s no better time than summer to give it a whirl.
This is because heat improves flexibility, meaning even the most stiff of us can dip into poses we never thought possible.
“When your body temperature is up, you can go deeper into a pose,” Edward Vilga, author of Yoga for Suits, told Fitness Magazine.
Focus on interval training
In the hotter months, it’s a good idea to change how you do cardio.
Fitness Magazine recommend doing your regular cardio (be that running, cycling or swimming) at a slower pace, but adding in “30-second speed bursts every three to five minutes”.
This will apparently maintain your conditioning and burn more calories without having to go all-out for the entire durations.
Treat your body right post-workout
When you’ve done the hard graft, it’s time to return your body to cooler, more manageable temperature.
You can do this by hydrating with fruits to replenish your body’s fluids. Watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and peaches are all water-heavy choices and provide a nice, tasty post-work out treat.
Also, think about use relaxing treatments such as applying peppermint oil to the back of your neck and temples to ope your nasal passage in humid weather and relax the body.
You can even apply aftersun to your body even if you haven’t been directly in the sun. Aftersun contains cooling and soothing aloe vera which will help cool the body after training.
Last but not least: stay hydrated. Always carry a bottle of water with you and be generous with your sips.
Happy summer training!
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