As the weather gets hotter your motivation to get sweaty on purpose gets less and less. But it’s not just the fact that exercising in the heat feels worse – it’s also pretty dangerous. Heat-related illnesses include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If during your summertime workout you experience symptoms like nausea, headaches, excessive sweating, dizziness, confusion, trouble with your sight or feeling particularly irritable, you need to stop and lower your body’s temperature ASAP.
Here are a few ways you can help your body to keep cool and calm while still getting ripped in summer:
Don’t exercise alone
Working out with someone else is more motivating, more fun and it’s safer too. Be communicative with each other about what you’re feeling. If you verbalise that you’re feeling dizzy or nauseous, your friend will encourage you to take a break, whereas if you were alone you might be more inclined to just push through. It’s safer to have another person around in case you faint or suddenly feel really ill and need assistance from someone you trust, not some stranger in the park.
Take a super-hot bath…
…Or shower if you’re in water-deprived Cape Town. One study suggests that having a 30-minute soak in a really hot bath straight after your workout can make your next exercise session in the heat way easier. The theory is that this gets your body to adapt to heat better in the long run, meaning the next time you exercise you’ll start sweating earlier, which helps your body to cool down faster.
You already know you should be drinking more water, and if you plan on exercising in the heat it’s extra important to keep hydrated. Drink half a litre two hours before you exercise, 250ml during your warmup, a few sips every 10 minutes during your workout, and another 250ml when you’re done. It sounds like a lot, but remember – you’ll be losing a lot of water through sweating. Also try to drink cold water as it is absorbed faster.
Wear the right clothes
Even though the cutest stuff from Cotton On Body is mostly black and grey, you should avoid wearing dark colours if you’re exercising outside. Stick to light tones which will absorb less radiant energy than darker shades. Also, make sure your gym gear is clean because the oil and salt from sweat and general dirt can block up the holes in your woven clothes, which decreases air circulation. If you suffer from sports-bra rash, try putting your bra on over a lightweight sports vest. It might look weird, but it will prevent chafing.
If you don’t have the luxury of a personal trainer who will plunge you into an ice bath after your workout to cool you down, there are other, less extreme things you can try. Keep a mini portable fan in your gym bag to blast on your face when things get too heated. An ice pack on your neck also helps, and keeping a spray bottle of cool water at hand is a good idea too.
Don’t push yourself too hard too fast. Allow your body to get used to exercising in the heat slowly – after two weeks or so it will start to feel more comfortable. Take two weeks to gradually build up the length and intensity of your workouts to avoid sending your body into shock.
Exercise at the right time
The sun is at its hottest at midday so avoid lunchtime exercising. First thing in the morning and late afternoon/evening are the most ideal times to get sweaty. Plus, you’ll get to see the sunrise or sunset, and exercising with a view is always better for the soul.
Switch up your routine
Use the summertime as a reason to get into different types of exercise. Swimming is one of the best ways you can get moving in the hotter months because, duh, you’re surrounded by cool water the whole time.
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