is training in the heat good for you?

Published by

Marianne C. Huseby / marianne@karitraa.com
20.06.2017

Summer training can be tough. Warm temperatures make us feel fatigued and weak, which can slow down a workout and make us believe it's better to drop it and relax instead. According to new science, heat isn’t a reason to skip working out however. Rather the opposite. Studies show that working out in the heat can actually be beneficial for you, if you take the right precautions.

Surprising Effects 

Researchers have been looking at the effects of heat on athletic performance for decades, and their results have been consistently surprising. Studies have found that, in addition to an increased rate of perspiration, training in the heat can increase an athlete’s blood plasma volume (which leads to better cardiovascular fitness), reduce overall core temperature, reduce blood lactate, increase skeletal muscle force, and, counterintuitively, make a person train better in cold temperatures.

Source: Effect of heat and heat acclimatization

Have to take precautions

Before you start working out in a new and warmer climate however, you need to take some precautions. There is a reason for why athletes go through temperature acclimation training before competing in new countries with higher temperatures.

If we are exposed to high temperatures for too long, our natural cooling system can fail and cause heat exhaustion– or even heat stroke.

If the humidity is also way up, you´re in double trouble because your sweat «sticks» to your skin and doesn’t evaporate as quickly as in a dry climate. 

So here are some rules to live by for your summer training: 

DRINK UP

Rule number one to avoid overheating is to drink enough water before, during and after training. You obviously sweat more in warmer climates, which can disturb your water balance, but also your sodium balance. If you’re looking to do something moderate for less than an hour, water should be fine, but anything more intense will require sports drinks to get carbohydrates and electrolytes. A fruit before or after training also works fine. 

MINd the humidity 

In humid conditions where the surrounding air cannot hold further water vapour, sweat evaporates slowly, if at all. As a result, the body heats up even more. During rainy season or conditions of high humidity, the body´s natural cooling system simply can´t work. It is therefore better to enjoy a humid day by the sea or pool, or workout indoors – if you wish. 

Listen to your body

You´re not going to score any points for pushing yourself to the limit of where your body temperature makes you pass out. Don´t exaggerate, and take a pause in the shadow if you start feeling warm or dizzy. If you´re near a pool or the sea, a cool swim after your run is a great way of finish your workout. 

Keep a cool head and dress light

By using a cap or other covering head gear when exercising outside, you keep your head cool, which is important to avoid overheating. This will also protect your face from the sun. Remember that your sun screen won´t save you when you´re sweating, as it eventually will wear off.

In addition, a cap will absorb a portion of the sweat from the upper part of the face and prevent it from running over your eyes all the time.

Remember to wear light training gear that breathes well.