In Ireland, let’s just say it’s a rarity for us to have to worry about training in hot weather. However, with the current sunshine and warm temperatures due to continue (yippee!), there are a few things to keep in mind.
With the number of potential dangers when exercising in hot weather, you need to be prepared. They’re simple to avoid with proper knowledge and body awareness. If you’re used to doing a certain amount of training, and then all of a sudden the temperatures are considerably higher, you do need to take this into account and adapt your training as needed.
Follow the tips below, and you can continue to train safely.
So, what are the main dangers of warm weather training?
Exercise puts stress on the body, and when the weather is hot, it increases that level of stress. In addition to the exercise itself, the high ambient temperature raises your core temperature. The body will sweat in order to dissipate the heat by sending additional blood flow to the skin. This leaves less blood available for the exercising muscles as well as elevates the heart rate.
Also, if we do not drink sufficient fluids while exercising, the body will not have enough fluid to create sweat. This decreases the ability to reduce the core temperature, and you can start to overheat.
The following conditions can be caused by warm weather training:
- Cramps are caused by a lack of fluids and overheating.
- Heat collapse is generally a feeling of being lightheaded and possible fainting. This occurs if standing for long periods in high temperature, standing suddenly from a sitting position, or directly after intense exercise.
- Heat exhaustion occurs when the body temperature raises as high as 40C. You may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, it can develop into Heatstroke
- Heatstroke is a potentially life threatening condition. If you suspect anyone of suffering from this, you must get them immediate medical attention. The body temperature rises above 40C, and the body can no longer cool itself. This can lead to confusion, irritability, heart rhythm problems, dizziness, nausea, visual problems and fatigue. If left untreated, it can lead to brain damage, organ failure or even death.
What do I need to watch out for?
Be aware of these signs and symptoms: muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, fatigue, headache, sweating extensively, dizziness or lightheadedness, confusion, irritability, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, or visual problems.
If you suspect any of these, stop exercising immediately and cool the body as quickly as possible. This can be done by getting into the shade, removing layers of clothing or sports equipment, using a cold water shower or hose, ice packs on the back of the neck or under arms, and cold wet towels. Drink fluids immediately. Ideally, drink cool water or a sports drink.
If you are experiencing any of the Heatstroke signs or symptoms, seek medical advice straight away. If your condition does not improve within 30 minutes of ceasing exercise, seek medical advice.
What are the ways to prevent heat related conditions?
- Acclimate to the conditions by building up duration and intensity slowly.
- Be aware of the forecast and plan your training accordingly.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your session.
- Avoid the hottest part of the day (i.e. midday sun).
- Wear sunscreen if you are exposed to the sun.
- Wear a hat to prevent the sun shining directly onto the head.
- Train appropriately for your level of fitness.
- Wear appropriate clothing – light, loose fitting to allow for sweating.
- Train indoors if you feel that the temperatures are going to be too high.
- Be aware of any medical conditions that may be affected by increased heat.
You can prevent or avoid most issues with warm weather training so it does not mean you need to stop training. You just need to train smart. You can then delight in the warm weather while still being safe. Enjoy your workouts!
What's your favourite way to train when the weather is nice?