Regardless of where you’re located, Australian summers can put even the most heat-loving of us to the test.
We all know how important exercise is when it comes to weight loss and general health and wellbeing. Finding time in a busy schedule to fit in a blast of cardio and/or resistance can be tricky, but we all try and make the time to burn some calories. When the temperature heats up though, it adds an extra dimension to proceedings.
Whether it’s ‘standard’ summer heat or the extreme conditions we’re experiencing at the moment, a rise in the mercury can turn a normal sweat session into something resembling a sauna.
Our bodies are generally supposed to maintain a temperature warmer than the exterior environment. When that starts to shift, our muscles go to work, regulating that heat by producing sweat to cool things down. Our body is very efficient at performing this function but in doing so, excretes much needed fluid. Adding extra functions to perform to a body that is already working hard to regulate the heat can lead to disaster if not managed correctly.
At the less dangerous end of the scale comes the extreme tiredness that comes with working out when it’s hot. All that sweat that you end up losing can really take it out of you, leaving you depleted for the rest of the day/night and struggling to get your usual tasks/jobs done. At the scarier end of the scale comes heat exhaustion and dehydration, products of an overworked, under-hydrated body. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are especially susceptible to extreme heat conditions and while exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, should take extra care when working out.
So what’s the solution? We still want to be able to workout, but we also want to remain healthy and happy. We’ve compiled our best advice for exercising safely when it’s hot, so you can have your cake and eat it too.
Top tips for exercising in the heat
- Choose your time wisely – Early morning or late evening are your best bets in the middle of summer as the sun is at its weakest.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – You lose A LOT of fluid through sweat alone so replacing what you’ve lost (and then some) is essential. You don’t need to invest in sugary sports drinks either. Plain water is just as good a hydrator in many cases. The best way to tell how your hydration levels are? Check the colour of your pee. Pale yellow is what you’re looking for.
- Don’t push too hard – When the temperature soars, take it as a sign to slow down the pace a little. Trying to break records while your body is already under stress isn’t going to do you any favours in the long run. Scaling back your workout to something where you heart rate is slightly lower means you’ll finish your workout feeling good, not exhausted.
- Think about your wardrobe – Synthetic and/or heavy fibres are best avoided when its warm. Light, breathable clothes in either 100% cotton or a cotton blend are your best bet.
- Mix things up – If you’re an avid walker or runner, moving your workout to the pool not only keeps you cool but challenges your body in a whole different way. While swimming is an excellent form of cardio, other options like water walking or running, aqua-aerobics and even aqua zumba mean there’s plenty of options.
- Or stay indoors and follow our exercise videos from our fitness and pilates expert – you can see them here