For those who live in the UAE, exercising in the sweltering heat is the norm. While we may be mentally strong enough to take on a scorching heat, it doesn’t mean that our bodies are.
Whether you’re spending early morning cycling or heading out for a 10k run in the evening, there are certain things you should keep in mind so you get the most out of the workout without any injuries.
Heidi Jones, a lifestyle coach and Lululemon Run Ambassador in Dubai, has a few tips that will help you stay motivated and safe throughout the summer months.
Adapt your exercise routine
What is your body craving right now? As the season changes often our needs change too. We change our eating habits from winter (soups, hot chocolate, hearty meals) to summer (salads, fresh juices and light bites) so why not adapt your exercise routine too? When you find what works for you in the summer heat and following the new social distance guidelines, you’ll be more likely to do it consistently and reap the benefits, including; increased energy, improved mental clarity, optimal digestive health and enhanced mood.
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Hydrate three ways
Hydration is essential at all times of the year; however, it is even more essential when the heat is up as we sweat a lot more.
- As a suggestion only, increase your daily amount from 2 litres a day to up to 3-5 litres a day, depending on your physical size and how much physical movement and sweating you do per day. To get the most out of drinking water, sip water throughout the day, do not ‘drink it all in one go’ – this can actually cause you more harm than good. For the runners, hikers, explorers, outdoor climbers start wearing a hydration pack when you are training outdoors, continue to sip water during training too.
- Electrolytes – We lose electrolytes in our sweat, therefore adding an electrolyte tablet to one of your water bottles a day will help you replace the excess you are losing by running in the heat, potentially helping you prevent fluid retention and muscle cramping
- Diet – Enjoy fresh hydrating foods such as fruits and vegetables with each meal, such as cucumber, iceberg lettuce, celery, tomatoes and strawberries.
Be sensible with timings and locations
Be smart and choose to exercise at the coolest times of the day and in the coolest settings.
Getting up at 4am may seem like drastic action, however it can make a huge difference when you exercise outdoors. Not only is it cooler, but the sun also is not beating down on you and you get to enjoy the sunrise. Using the evenings has the advantage that it will always be getting cooler (rather than hotter in the mornings). Watch the sun-set or wait until the sun has gone down completely. Also aim to exercise where there is shade, easy access to extra water and there is phone signal.
Do not go hiking or running in the trails or mountains on your own, or for the first time during the summer, even if you have been before – take the heat seriously, take extra precaution – it can be very dangerous if you’re underprepared.
Focus on your health
Keep your heart and body happy by slowing down and doing fewer reps. If it’s your first time exercising in higher temperatures a light jog or walk is a good place to start. This is not the time to pushing your body to extremes or testing out new personal bests. Always remember to listen to your body, it’s never wrong.
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Whether you rely on a friend, family member or yourself to keep you in check, having a tracking system to check-in on your progress will keep you on top of your health goals. Keep a note of your exercises, and check-in with yourself once a week. Consider what is working for you, what didn’t work and what changes you can make to keep going.
Enjoy the process
Physical exercise is so much more than improving your physical appearance and fitness levels. Moving each day in a way your body enjoys will increase your overall wellness including; your mental and emotional wellbeing, from managing stress levels, feeling happier, creating work-life balance, human connection (even at 2 meters apart) to mindfulness. Adapt your routine to keep a consistent approach to moving and spending time outdoors.
If you’re really wanting to use the summer to increase your fitness I suggest seeking the expert advice from a coach or personal trainer, they will help set training plans for you to improve your fitness ability as well teach you how to stay safe.
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