Home Lifestyle Fit and Fine by Kamal Singh CSCS: Training in the heat

Fit and Fine by Kamal Singh CSCS: Training in the heat

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Summer is round the corner and as the heat goes up, fitness enthusiasts all over need to be aware of the pitfalls of training in hot weather. This is especially true for the runners, cyclists and others who train outdoors. If you are a gym buff, then most of the information in this column may not be applicable to you.

Impact of heat on the body

The body goes through a number of changes while training in a hot environment. Core temperature goes up rapidly and then at a slower rate, blood flow to skin increases so as to transfer heat to the surface where it is lost through sweat. Urine production decreases as sweating goes up. These changes are necessary to prevent overheating. But your body may not be ready to train in hot weather and that is where the problems occur. The Mayo Clinic lists the harmful effects of training in the heat has on the body.

•Cramps: working out in high temperature can lead to muscle cramps. This is usually the result of excessive loss of electrolytes through sweat.

•Fainting: exercising in high heat can cause dizziness, feeling light headed and fainting.

•Dehydration: excessive sweating and not replenishing the lost water can result in dehydration. Dehydration can be life threatening as the blood becomes thick and affect the heart, kidneys and the brain.

•Heat Exhaustion: if the body is not able to keep the core temperature under control while working out, heat exhaustion is the first step. Clammy skin, nausea/vomiting, headache are the symptoms of heat exhaustion.

•Heat Stroke: if the Core temperature goes over 104 degrees Fahrenheit; heat stroke can be the result. This is a medical emergency and if not immediately treated, can lead to organ failure and death.

From the above list it is clear that high summer heat is not to be trifled with, especially for people who want to maintain or improve their fitness. But there are ways to mitigate the impact of high temperature while exercising. Human body is highly adaptive and if the fitness aficionado is smart, working out in the summer is no big deal!

How to train in hot weather

These are general tips which will help in preparing for the coming hot weather. The idea is to give the body time to adapt to the high heat. A small caveat, dry heat is easier to handle as sweat evaporates quickly in dry heat but high humidity coupled with high heat is way harder to deal with, as sweat does not evaporate and the skin does not cool. So, keep tabs on the humidity along with the temperature.

1.Reduce intensity and volume. I usually recommend cutting the intensity by about a third. This would mean initially slow down the speed of running/cycling. If you are a beginner, then include more walking and less running.

2.Eliminate the hard intervals. Leave the high intensity intervals for later. Just focus on getting used to training in the heat.

3.Drink plenty of water. Carry a water bottle and drink about 2-3 cups per hour. You can add a sports drink with electrolytes if the session is going to be longer than an hour.

4.Wear appropriate clothes and avoid training when the sun is overhead. Doing most of your training at dawn is a good strategy for the hot summers. Carry spare workout clothes. Overly sweat soaked clothes trap heat. Thus, carrying a spare is a good idea.

5.Avoid training on days when it is excessively hot. If you have access to a gym, then run or cycle indoors on the extremely hot days.

6.You can over do the water intake! An easy way to keep a tab on this is check the color of your urine. If it is colorless, no need to drink more water, if yellow then drink more water.

Acclimation is the name of the game when wanting to train in extreme weather. It is a known fact that hot weather training improves endurance. But give your body time to get use to the heat and then follow the above tips and the hot weather should have no impact on your fitness regimen. Now go and do it.

Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years

From HT Brunch, April 3, 2022

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