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.
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.
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:
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.