Things are really heating up in the UK, it is important to know how to exercise safely in summer.
Thanks to global warming they will continue to warm up over the coming years so this is something we all need to learn to do.
From heat stroke to dehydration and more, there are plenty of injuries that can be sustained if we do not train safely during the hot summer months.
If you are doing your training in Castle Gym then you need not worry as much thanks to our air-con and water supply.
However, if you are planning to exercise outdoors then you need to take extra precautions.
Here are our top 10 tips on how to exercise safely in summer:
1. Take it easy
You may not like hearing this as it will mean changing your training routine from what you have gotten used to over the past few months. But, trust us, your body and health will thank you for it!
Whether you walk, run, cycle, whatever outdoor activity you do, make sure you’re reducing your distance and/or pace to account for the increase in heat.
If for any reason you have to stick to the training routine you are on then try to complete your activities indoors, in shade, or in the early or late hours of the day.
2. Drink more
This one should be a given regardless of the weather. Your body will thank you for increasing your water intake. To exercise safely in summer this is especially important as we sweat more and need more fluids to help regulate our body temperature. Add exercise on top of that and you really need to make sure you are getting the right amount of fluids in you.
Risking dehydration is dangerous for our health. When you’re dehydrated it means your body is losing more fluids than it is taking in. Dehydration can lead to feeling dizzy, tired, sick, worst-case scenario is you could faint or even have a seizure, at which point you will need to seek emergency care.
The good thing is, dehydration is easily avoidable, the first sign of dehydration is dry or cracked lips. As soon as you notice this, drink plenty of water or fluids.
The average person should look to drink 2 litres of fluids each day, during summer you should add another half a litre to this. If you are exercising as well you should be aiming for 3 litres or more depending on how much you sweat.
3. Eat more hydrating fruits
Getting your 5 a day should be something you strive for on a daily basis as it is. However, in summer we can be even smarter about which fruits and vegetables we choose to eat. There are many water-rich fruits and veg that can help us increase our fluid intake to combat dehydration.
A few good examples are:
Watermelon – with a water content of 92% this is one of the most healthy and hydrating fruits you can eat. Alongside all the vitamins and nutrients it contains, in a single serving you can have up to 118ml of water which is just over half a glass.
Strawberries – with a 91% water content strawberries are full of goodness and hydration!
Cucumber – this is made up of 95% water. Being one of the most water-based fruits we have. By adding this to your salads, sandwiches or enjoying it on its own you will get a great number of vitamins, nutrients, and hydration.
Peppers – peppers are one of the best vegetables to add to your diet! With 92% water and being rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals they are a healthy vegetable to eat. Plus, the sweet crispness of peppers helps with those who may be fussy eaters.
Courgette/Zucchini – this juicy baby marrow is 94% water. Adding this veg as a side, in your soups, or shredded into healthy ‘noodles’ is a great way to get the healthy veg into your diet. As well as being water-rich, courgettes have a high vitamin C content.
4. Avoid the hottest hours
In the UK we have a classic habit of enjoying the sun a little too much and getting sunburnt. Yes, we have to wait many months for the beautiful summer season, and even when it arrives we know there is still a risk of the classic British rain.
Most of us tend to try and make the most of it, and that is okay! Seek shade, stay hydrated, and use sun cream you are likely to have a safe, fun day.
However, exercising outdoors in summer is different from just having a nice picnic in the park. There are more precautions we have to take for our own health and safety.
If possible we 100% advise avoiding the hottest hours if you choose to train outside.
During the summer months, the hours of 10 am-4 pm tend to be when the sun is at its hottest. This may not work with everyone’s schedules but our advice would be to try to fit those runs/bike rides or other activities in during the early morning hours or in the evening.
Heading for your run before work or getting the bikes out after dinner is going to be the safest option for you.
Exercising during these hotter hours could put you at risk of dehydration, heatstroke, or more serious injuries. It’s simply not worth the risk.
5. Seek shade
If for any reason you can’t avoid exercising during the hotter hours of the day then the first thing you should do is seek shade. Plan your exercise under a cover or perhaps through the woods in the shade of the trees.
Exposing yourself to the direct heat of the sun when it is at its highest is very dangerous. Sunburn, dehydration, dizziness, nausea, these are all symptoms you could suffer from and more if you don’t seek shade.
6. Wear lightweight material and light coloured clothing
For anyone who has ever made the mistake of exercising in black clothing in summer then you’ll already know this.
Light coloured clothing will help reflect the light and heat back out away from you. Wearing dark clothing will cause heat from the sun to be absorbed, as well as keeping in the heat expelling from your body as well.
Lightweight clothing will help your skin to breathe. Choose a lighter fabric such as nylon or polyester. These fabrics are more breathable so you will find them more comfortable when you’re sweating and working hard.
7. Use a waterproof/sweatproof sun cream – Reapply if staying out more than 2 hours
Whatever time you go outside to exercise, it is important to protect your skin. Whether you go out in the morning, afternoon or evening, if the sun is out, protect yourself by using sun cream.
Our skin is extremely delicate and susceptible to the heat and UV rays of the sun. If you’ve ever experienced bad sunburn you’ll know it is not fun or worth the risk.
If you are exercising outdoors then apply sun cream at least 10 minutes before you go out so that it has time to sink in and won’t get instantly sweated out.
Reapply every 2 hours, or if you get wet or excessively sweaty, try and try yourself off and reapply your sun cream. This should give you the best possible protection other than shade whilst you are exercising outdoors.
8. Know your limits
To exercise safely in summer you need to know your limits. This point ties in quite nicely with the first. Exercising in hot conditions, especially outdoors in direct sunlight can be dangerous. We’ve mentioned taking in enough fluids, and how to best protect your skin and regulate your body temperature.
But, the most important thing is for you to know your body and understand your own limitations.
In any weather situation, hot, cold, normal, you need to know what your body can handle. However many reps you are used to doing in the gym, or distance you would go in cool weather, you will need to decrease this. In heat, you will tire faster, sweat more, and will get shorter breathing.
If you are a runner, let’s say you usually run 10km, in hot, sunny weather you will likely want to decrease this to a 5-7km run, and possibly take water with you.
9. Understand the signs of dehydration and heat stroke
Dehydration and heat stroke are the two most common afflictions for people in summer. Whether you are looking out for symptoms of your own, or if you are looking out for others, here is what you need to know…
Dehydration – dehydration is when there is an imbalance of fluids in your body. I.e. you are expelling more fluids than you are taking in. One of the first signs should of course be that you will feel thirsty. The first visual sign you should see or feel is dry, cracked lips or dry eyes.
If you still haven’t noticed either of these, then the more serious signs could be tiredness, dizziness, darker urine and peeing less often.
To help someone with these symptoms, slowly intake fluids. If you are concerned the symptoms are more serious such as fainting or vomiting then seek emergency help as soon as possible by dialling 999.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can have some similar initial symptoms as dehydration. It is important to know the difference.
With heat stroke, your first signs will be a headache, being very thirsty, dizziness, and a high temperature of 38C or above.
Signs that it is not dehydration and that it could be serious heat exhaustion or heat stroke are loss of appetite and feeling sick, excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin, cramps in the arms, legs and stomach, or fast breathing or pulse.
To help someone with these symptoms, lay them down somewhere cool and in the shade or indoors. Slightly elevate their feet and get them to slowly rehydrate.
If their symptoms haven’t gone or have worsened after 30 minutes, or if they pass out or begin to have a seizure, call emergency help immediately on 999.
10. Always take an exercise buddy or means of communication in case of an accident
Last but by no means least, have an exercise companion or group or take your phone.
If a worst-case scenario happens, if you get injured, or feel ill and aren’t close to home, or if you’re alone, then you need to have a way of getting help.
Having companions with you is a great way to stay safe. Someone can stay with the ill or injured person whilst another gets help. It is useful having others, you can look out for each other and notice early signs of any issues.
Having a phone with you should be a must-have for anyone exercising alone. Especially if you are running down trails away from main roads where you can stop someone to help you.
Always remember to stay safe when you exercise, whether that is inside with us here at Castle Gym, or outside. Take care, look after yourself.
For further information, you can always talk to our staff at the gym. Or for help with your training, look into hiring one of our professional personal trainers.