How to work out in the heat


This new year has started on a hot note! Blistering heat in Gauteng is as high as 35°C on some days and higher in other provinces.

The heat can be a major drawback for people looking to work out or go out for a jog, a cycle or even a walk. If you’re not careful, you can end up suffering from heat-related health conditions such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion or extreme dehydration, all of which can greatly derail you from your fitness goals.

Fortunately, we have some tips to help you safely exercise even on the hottest of summer days.

Stay hydrated with the right fluids

Water is your best friend on a hot day for staying hydrated. Even better is if you add electrolytes to your water. It will keep you hydrated longer.

Wear light clothing

Bright colours are good since they will reflect the sun and also help to make you more visible to oncoming traffic. Cotton is a lightweight and affordable material that can help you to stay dry. If you’re willing to splurge a bit more, opt for sweat-wicking shirts and shorts to keep the sweat at bay.

Don’t forget the sunscreen

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A woman doing a skincare routine. Picture: iStock

Nothing is worse than trying to complete a summer workout with a bad sunburn that makes it hard to move. Stop the burn before it occurs by lathering up with sunscreen. Opt for a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and one that is water-proof so that it doesn’t come off once you start sweating.

Timing is everything

Avoid the hottest part of the day. To avoid intense heat, exercise early in the morning or later in the day. The hottest temperatures occur between 11am and 3pm.

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Watch the weather forecast and take extra caution when it’s hot and humid. Humidity can work against your body’s ability to cool the skin since sweat can’t properly evaporate.

Water sports can keep you cooler

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Picture: iStock

Summer is the perfect time to make water your friend. Especially on hot days, try adding a water activity to your workout such as swimming or water aerobics. These activities will help you to stay fit and healthy while also staying cool.

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Prefer to run instead? No worries, you can still get in on the water action. Next time you see what looks like a “rainy day”, opt to run with the rain rather than against it. Running during a rainy day can help you to stay cool and many athletes find these workouts to be invigorating and refreshing.

The key to successfully running in the rain is to be prepared. Wear bright clothing and make sure all of your clothing is waterproof. Avoid running around cars that may have trouble seeing you. Running in a little bit of rain won’t harm you, but if you see lightning or hear thunder, you’ll want to return inside to safety as quickly as possible.

Indoors can also be safe

There’s nothing wrong with working out indoors at your local gym or even in your home. On days when there is an excessive heat warning, this can be your best decision to stay cool and avoid a heat-related injury while still getting in your workout. If you have air conditioning or a fat, it will help you to stay cool in the heat.

Listen to your body

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Listen to your body and if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous, or tired, give yourself a break. Taking some time off for rest is better than overdoing your workout and getting sick or injured and having to stop working out altogether.

If the summer heat proves to be too much of a challenge for high-intensity workouts, break it up into multiple smaller workouts throughout the day. Take precautions and enjoy a safe summer outdoors!

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