Why do we get hot when we exercise? Put simply, when we exercise our body’s system for regulating temperature is kicked up a notch by our working muscles. Our muscles warm up the more we exercise and the blood circulating through our body to feed oxygen to our warm muscles also warms up, causing our core temperature to rise.
How do we cool down? Well, our body is clever and as our core temperature rises, our body’s nervous system kicks in and asks our eccrine glands to produce sweat to cool us down. Sweat is made up of water, salt and a few other substances to help cool us down as it evaporates.
How does hot summer weather fit in? In order for the above process to work smoothly and do its job, our body needs to disperse heat to its surroundings (through sweating and sweat evaporating), but if our surroundings match our body temperature, we can’t disperse heat as effectively, our sweat doesn’t evaporate as easily and we remain hot and feeling uncomfortable! Now you know why you feel hotter exercising in summer, you can follow these summer workout tips to keep your cool.
During the summer months, try to avoid training during the hottest part of the day (typically between 10am and 4pm) and instead opt for a morning or evening time slot when the temperatures are cooler and your body won’t bear the brunt of the heat.
If you’re training outside, look for the shade of a building or exercise under big shady trees – training out of direct sunlight will make it feel at least 2-3 degrees cooler than being out in the sun.
Water is a vital part of various chemical reactions in the body and we need it for our body to perform at its best during exercise – if we start a workout dehydrated, it’s likely that we’ll feel dizzy, we’ll have less energy and we won’t last as long during a workout.
Add sweating to that equation – during which we lose fluids that need replacing – and really need to make sure our body is well hydrated, not just after a training session, but also before and during exercise.
Try to drink a litre of water per hour of exercise to make up for fluid loss – and double or triple that on a hot summer day.
Exercising in the heat can slow you down, so listen to your body and do just that – slow down. If your body is adapting to the environment, the additional stressors on your system won’t allow you to train at the same intensity as you’re used to and that’s okay.
If you usually exercise for 40 minutes, try a 15 minute or 20 minute session instead on hot days, giving your body a good workout but being careful not to overdo it in the heat. Now could be the perfect time to try a HIIT session and reap its benefits.
Studies have shown that just 2 weeks of high-intensity interval training improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training (just be careful in the heat).
Just as we layer up appropriately to exercise in cooler weather, we need to dress appropriately for the heat. Lighter coloured clothes won’t absorb as much heat as darker colours and wearing something loose will help with air flow to keep you cool.
Be sun smart and always wear sunscreen and a hat when training outside in any degree of sun.
If the idea of doing any exercise in the outdoor heat has you running for an air-conditioned building, run straight into your nearest Goodlife gym and complete your training there!