How to stay cool and exercise in hot weather

We have had the hottest teperatures on record this summer, so it’s really important to be mindful of keeping cool during this warmer weather. Take care of yourself when exercising outdoors during summer: even low intensity activities like walking can leave you dehydrated when the sun heats up. If you’re heading out to exercise in hot weather, then take some of the following precautions to keep your body happy and healthy.

How does heat affect your body?

When exercising in hot weather, your body faces three stressors: the exercise itself, the air temperature, and humidity. As we all know, exercise drives up our body temperature. Your body responds in two ways to this. First, it pumps more blood towards the skin, helping it to cool down, but in turn diverting blood away from your muscles and pushing your heart rate up. Second, by sweating, which cools you down as the moisture evaporates from the skin.

 

However, on a hot day, humidity can make it difficult for sweat to evaporate, and if the air temperature is high enough, then your body’s natural cooling ability may not be up to the job. This can lead to potential problems, particularly if you don’t keep hydrated.

Keeping cool

There are a number of ways to avoid overheating in the sun, including:

  • Be prepared. Keep an eye on the forecast; if you know it’s going to be hot, adjust your clothing and take plenty of fluids with you.
  • Drink lots of fluids. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink; if it’s hot, drink regularly in order to keep yourself hydrated and to give your body the best chance to keep itself cool.
  • Use lightweight clothing. We can help here: our fantastic range of Carbon Energized sportswear use fabric with advanced temperature control properties, keeping you up to 3 times cooler than base layers manufactured with other materials such as polyester. The garments are also highly breathable, allowing moisture to evaporate quickly.
  • Take it easy. If you’re not used to exercising in the heat, allow yourself time to get acclimated. It can take a couple of weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather, especially if you tend to exercise indoors - for example, in an air-conditioned gym. If you’re relatively new to exercise, take plenty of breaks and keep the intensity low.
  • Exercise in the cooler parts of the day. Avoid the midday sun and try and take your exercise in the morning or evening. Alternatively, head indoors to the pool or gym.
  • Wear sunscreen. Sunburn doesn’t just cause skin cancer; it drives up your body temperature too, making it harder for you to keep cool. Wear a sunscreen with a decent SPF (ideally 30 or higher).

The warning signs

Take care of yourself when exercising in hot weather. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop what you’re doing, drink some water and try to get yourself cool as quickly as you can.

  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Trouble with your vision
  • Confusion

How to cool down

There are a number of ways to get yourself to cool down quickly and effectively. If you can, get into an ice bath - or at the very least, a tub of very cold water. Failing that, drink plenty of fluids and use cold compresses across your head, neck and under your arms, and spritz yourself with cold water. Remove any unnecessary clothing and use a fan if you have one. If you don’t feel better within 20 minutes, then it’s time to call the doctor.

 

So there you have it, our quick guide to staying cool in the summer. Happy exercising!