Summer is coming, the temperature is rising, people everywhere are suddenly ditching clothes and you realise the clothes you’ve been covering up in all winter have got to go. If you’re keen to make this summer the last one you spend feeling uncomfortable, you’re going to want to keep up with your exercise regime – but how can you make sure you’re working out safely in the summer heat?
These tips for working out in the summer will make sure you continue to get a good workout even when the sun is blazing and you feel like you might actually be cooking.
Working out in the summer: what you need to know
Should I exercise indoors or outdoors?
Participating in physical activity in outdoor environments will boost your energy levels and improve stress levels more than working out indoors. In 2011, a review found that participants exercising outdoors reported improved energy and felt revitalised, and doing so even reduced anger. There are studies demonstrating a drop in obesity levels in children simply by spending time outdoors. Moreover, you’ll make and store Vitamin D, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and boosting your mood. It’s even thought that it may be beneficial for those losing weight. So whether you are surrounded by a bucolic park or a concrete jungle, summer is the time to get fit outdoors.
But what about skin cancer?
Sun’s out, guns out? Think twice before showing off your body during your outdoor workouts. The number one rule of working out outdoors is to wear sunscreen. You may not think it is necessary when it’s cloudy but UV rays from the sun are still there and they still cause skin damage.
The international UV scale ranges from 1-20 but just 3 on this scale is enough to cause skin damage. The majority of UV rays can pass through clouds. Using decent sunscreen is essential and should be part of your daily routine whether you plan a run on a hot day or not.
How do I stop myself from getting too hot?
Increasing body heat is a limiting factor when it comes to exercise performance. Pre-cooling such as a cold shower before your workout will help improve your performance in the heat. There is a critical limiting body temperature where your body will naturally reduce your work out intensity, i.e you won’t run as fast or lift as much.
Studies show by pre-cooling, you lower your core temperature. Starting at a lower temperature means you will reach your critical limit later – and this will help your performance.
What’s the best way to keep hydrated?
When you work out in hot weather, you sweat more. While this may make you feel like you are getting a more intense workout, what it really means is that you are losing more water and salt from your body. There are tons of “super-hydrating” energy drinks on the market with all the necessary electrolytes and other miracle ingredients but remember they are all high in sugar and can be high in calories. Stick to water (and plenty of it) when working out outside.
My muscles are hot enough, so I don’t need to warm up first, right?
It may be tempting to forgo the stretch and get stuck in. Don’t fall victim to this. While it may seem like your muscles are warm enough due to the weather, stretching is super important to prevent injuries. It also helps to metabolise blood sugar, which in turn reduces fat storage. Those long lean muscles, as a result, are much more coordinated and have less unintentional jerky movements for those perfect squats.
Many thanks to Dr Preethi Daniel, who is Clinical Director at London Doctors Clinic and who put together this great guide for us. What are your top tips for working out in the summer? We want to know how you beat the heat – let us know your thoughts over on the forum.