Raising your heart rate with the temperature: exercising safely in summer

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Just because the weather is seriously starting to sizzle, that doesn’t mean you can’t still exercise safely

This is a region where, more often than not, you’re going to exercise in varying degrees of heat. Now that summer is definitely here, midday heat can reach dangerous levels and in those hours working out is simply not an option.

However, that doesn’t mean exercising outside in summer is impossible, there are just a few precautions you need to take in order to safely stand the sweltering heat.

Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water is the first and most obvious rule about being active in general but applies doubly so when it’s really hot. The whole purpose of perspiration is to keep us cool as our core temperature rises doing ongoing, heavy activity.

If you’re going to work out, you need to make sure that the liquid you have lost is replenished. This is even more important when working out in humid conditions because your sweat can stick to your skin instead of evaporating, which can make you even hotter.

Generally speaking, it’s been recommended that men drink approximately 3.7 litres of water per day, while women should aim for about 2.7 litres. If you are going to do a strenuous workout that lasts more than an hour, consider drinking a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes. (Don’t make it a staple though because these drinks are high in calories and were developed for athletes and never meant to be marketed in the mainstream.)

Dress the part
Dark colors absorbs the most heat, light colors absorb the least – it’s all to with different wavelengths and you read more behind the science here. Thankfully, activewear is moving into mainstream fashion so there is now a greater variety of colours and fabrics to choose from.

For the purposes of keeping cool, you’ll need lighter clothing and you’re also going to need moisture wicking fabrics – fabrics that pull moisture away from your skin – such as bamboo or synthetic blends. This means that while your shirt may look wet, the fabric touching your skin is dry.

Avoid cotton because your sweat will make the material stick to your skin and can cause chafing. No thanks! If you must wear cotton, opt for a cotton/synthetic blend.

The general rule is to avoid being in the sun between 10am and 4pm for two reasons: temperature and the UV index. Not only is it hottest period of the day, but also because that’s when the Ultra Violet (UV) Index is high (though the index can be high on cloudy or hazy days), not just when the sun is out.

When you do outside, make sure you wear an SPF of at least 15, though 30 will offer better protection. The SPF number determines how long you’re likely to be protected before having to reapply it. If you are swimming or sweating excessively, you will need to reapply it more frequently. A sunburn is not just uncomfortable, it can increase your risk of serious health issues.

Remember, if you’re used to working out at home or in a gym (think climate-controlled environments) and you want to move a couple of workouts outside, take it gently. The change in temperature can be jarring to your system. It’s hotter and more humid now, which may wear you down a lot faster. Don’t feel bad if you can only manage 10 or 20 minutes. Like everything else related to fitness, you can build up your endurance. What matters most is that you are consistent with the days of your workouts, not the hours.

Healthy Living is a frequently updated content section brought to you by the Saudi Sports for All Federation. In the spirit of supporting our #HealthyActiveCommunity, we’re sharing tips around wellness, physical activity and more!

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