UK heatwave: Is it safe to exercise in hot weather?

Do not exercise outdoors during peak sunshine hours, experts advise

Saman Javed
Monday 18 July 2022 15:26 BST
Red weather warning: How to cope with extreme heatwave temperatures

The dreaded heatwave is upon us.

While Britons typically rejoice at the short stint of warm weather we get during the summer months, the UK is facing unprecedented temperatures this week and some parts of England are expected to see temperatures as high as 42C.

The Met Office has issued both amber and red alerts, warning of “potential serious illness or danger to life”.

On Monday, the chief meteorologist at the weather service, Paul Davies, told Sky News that the extreme weather is “is entirely consistent with climate change”.

In a notice issuing its first ever red alert on Friday (15 July), the Met Office said the heatwave will have widespread impact on people and infrastructure.

It warned: “Therefore, it is important people plan for the heat and consider changing their routines. This level of heat can have adverse health effects.”

An integral part of many people’s routines is their daily workout but exercising in very hot weather can put additional stress on the body.

The Independent asked the experts for their advice.

Is it safe to exercise in hot weather?

It’s entirely safe to exercise in hot weather, but you must adjust your workout to accommodate the increase in temperature, says Lucie Cowan, a trainer at London-based health club Third Space.

“If you usually go for an evening jog, head to the gym for a workout in an air-conditioned environment,” Cowan explains.

“Don’t let the fact you’re not a gym member deter you – there are plenty of pay as you go options or week passes for when hot weather hits,” Cowan explains.

What changes should I make to my workout routine during a heatwave?

Make warmups longer (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

For starts, Cowan recommends making your warmup longer.

“While this seems counter intuitive when you’re already pretty darn warm, warming up is actually even more important in warm temperatures,” Cowan said.

“You need a longer warmup to get your body adjusted to the heat and allow your heart rate to rise slowly.”

Experts also advise against high intensity training like HIIT in favour of steady state cardio such as walking or swimming.

“Alternatively, try out some strength training, which is less cardio based and will be a little more manageable in hotter weather,” Cowan says.

When is the best time to work out during a heatwave?

Try and early morning workout (Getty Images)

Some people may also want to change the time of their workout.

Avoid exercising during peak sunshine hours, typically between 11am and 3pm, and hit the gym early morning or in the evening instead.

What precautions should I take after a workout?

Cowan says it is vital to “cool down as quickly as possible” after a workout.

“Whilst stretching is normally super important, cooling your body down quickly is more important in the heat,” she says.

“Try and have a cold shower to take inflammation away from your joints and muscles and bring your core temperature down as quickly as possible.”

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