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Exercising in hot weather


Young athletic man doing doing outdoor workout.

Life in Nigeria is trying to reduce your lifespan! If you live here then you know exactly what I’m talking about, the stress alone is enough to end you. One thing does stand out right now is the heat. There’s just no escaping the current heatwave, but you can’t let that stand in the way of your fitness.

What are the considerations for exercising in searing heat? If your hot-weather workout makes you feel like you are burning more fat, that’s because you are. Although colder temperatures might make it seem like your body needs to work harder to warm itself, your body actually burns more energy in the heat. Working out in the heat comes with a higher fat burn, but it also comes with several dangers. Working out in hot temperature burns more fat, and calories because your body has to work harder to cool itself. Your body releases heat through sweat, which comes from blood pumped to your skin.

The hotter your body gets, the more blood your heart needs to pump to expel that heat. Thus your heart works harder in hotter temperatures than it would in cooler temperatures, providing an increased calorie and fat burn. If, like me, you like working out outdoors, here are some tips to making the most of the hot weather:


Drink Up
The body’s natural cooling system can fail if we’re exposed to soaring temperatures for too long. The result may be heat exhaustion, that awful fatigue that makes you feel as if one more step could be your last, and even heat stroke. If the humidity is also really high, you’re in double trouble because your sweat “sticks” to your skin; it doesn’t evaporate as readily, which can send body temperature even higher.

To keep cool, make sure first of all that you’re drinking plenty of water. Since our bodies are about 50 to 60% water, it is vital to maintain this amount. We tend to lose about 2 to 3% during typical exercise and activity, especially on really hot days. While you’re exercising, drink 8 to 10 ounces of water every 20 minutes. After exercise, drink more – at minimum, another 8 ounces. Another great way to help re-hydrate during a break in physical activity is to eat a piece of fruit, such as an apple or orange, or even carrots or celery sticks. This will also help replace valuable electrolyte loss.

How do I know if I’m drinking enough water?
A good way to know that you’re hydrating properly is by checking the colour of your urine. If it’s pale yellow (think lemonade), you’re well hydrated. If it’s darker (heading toward the colour of apple juice), drink more. Do be aware that some medications and supplements alter the colour of urine, so this gauge, while good for many, does not work for everyone. To be safe, do drink the recommended amount of water. However, be careful not to drink too much water, this is called overhydration. It can lead to a problem called hyponatremia (low blood sodium).

Steer clear of sports drinks. They’re loaded with calories.
Sports drinks are not worth the caloric weight. They should only be considered if you’re of ideal body weight and exercising for long durations at high intensities. Even then, it’s a good idea to dilute sport drinks to avoid excessive calorie consumption. Eating fruits and vegetables during exercise provides ample electrolytes for the body, even further decreasing the need for high-calorie sport drinks.

Ease Up
If you’re used to working out in cooler climates, take it easy at first. Just accept the fact that you can’t do what you normally do. If you normally run, jog or walk. If you’re a brisk walker, slow it down. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the pace and length of your workout. If you have a medical condition and/or take prescription medications, do ask your physician if you need to take any additional precautions. Do not assume just because you are African that your body is designed for it, coming from a cooler climate requires the same precautions. Don’t find out the hard way.

Avoid The Hottest Part Of The Day
Rise early to catch the cool of the morning, or go out at sunset or later. In the heat of midday, take cover under shade. Jump in a pool. Sign up for an aqua-aerobics class.

Wear Light-Coloured, Lightweight Clothing
Dark colors absorb the heat, which can make you feel as if you’re wrapped in a warm blanket. Heavyweight, tight-fitting clothing will also heat you up. Keep it loose. Keep it light. More air will be able to circulate over your skin, keeping you cool. Personally, I’m a Dry-Fit fan.

Eat Snacks To Maintain Energy
But pick juicy snacks like fruit. The last thing you need in scorching heat are dry snacks like crackers, popcorn, or energy bars that require your body to add water. Plus, dry snacks are often dense with calories, which mean they can easily foil weight-loss goals.

Know When To Quit
It’s upsetting not to finish your four-mile workout, but please listen to your body. If you’re feeling any of the following, find air-conditioned comfort fast: weakness, light-headedness, dizziness, headache, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, rapid heartbeat

Remember that even a 20-minute workout has positive health effects. It’s the number of days you exercise that matters most. Frequency of days far outweighs the amount of time of any given exercise session. The most important aspects are to be consistent and to push yourself. Don’t let hot weather become another excuse for skipping a workout session.

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